Some Brief Thoughts on Playing Politics as a Team-Sport

Politics are often referred to and thought of as a team-sport, and I think that’s actually a pretty good comparison since in both politics and sport you have groups of people working together towards a common goal, and very often there are winners and losers of varying degrees in every outcome. I think that the problem in the current political climate is that a lot of well-intentioned people have forgotten which team they are actually playing for. I am going to use hockey to explain what I mean here, but you can really use any team-sport that you want as this is universal to pretty much all of them that I can think of.

In hockey, you’ve got a group of people who are all playing together with the thought of winning and getting their team higher in the standings so that they’ve got a chance to hoist the Cup at the end of the campaign. On this team you’ve hopefully got one or two superstars upon whom you can count on delivering, but those superstars couldn’t do anything without the rest of the team behind them. The basic structure of this team is divided into two parts – You’ve got the offense who are tasked with scoring goals and getting the points to move the team up the chain, and you’ve got the defense whose job it is to stop the other team from likewise scoring and furthering their own chances. The two halves cannot compete independently of each other – they need to work together in order for the team to succeed. It doesn’t matter how many Gretzky-level players you’ve got on your starting line if you don’t have strong defense and goal-tending to keep the puck out of your own net when the other team gets a shot, and no matter how weak the other team may be, opportunities always arise. That’s what makes sports so exciting. Point is, it doesn’t matter how many goals Matthews scores for the Leafs if Andersen can’t keep our net secure and empty as well.

Now let’s apply this to politics, and for the sake of this mid-term election day we’ll call this team America, although this applies just as easily to Canada, the UK, and every other democracy just as the sports analogy works for basketball, baseball, or football as well as hockey. On this team, you’ve also got an offense who we will dub the Blue as Liberals tend to be more progressive in their leanings, and the Red as conservatives tend to have more defensive or, um, conservative ideas about governance and try to conserve a status-quo more often than champion for social change. Please know that I am stating this without judgment, that’s just the way the two ideologies tend to work. Regardless, if it makes you uncomfortable, feel free to switch the colours around if that makes you happy, but the idea I’m trying to get across here is that we once again have two different parts of the same team who are supposed to be working towards the same goal, which in this case would be seeing America win.

The problem as I see it, however, is that in the current horrendously divisive political climate, the offense and the defense seem to have forgotten that and have started playing as their own teams, and even the most moderately capable coach or leader would tell you that a team divided can never win. I think that a lot of people have gotten so entrenched in their sides, be it offense of defense, that they’ve for whatever reason decided to ignore and neglect the fact that they’re all supposed to be on the same team, and they all have the same goal – For their homelands, the real team, to be both competitive on the world stage and prosperous within their borders. Your line can’t win unless the rest of the team is able to produce, so instead of letting our goalies hate our own wingers to the point where they won’t even pass them the puck, we need to remember that things go better when we all play together with the true common goal in mind. It’s a big world and there are a lot of other teams out there trying to get up the ladder, so if we don’t all start coming together as a team and understanding that the offense and the defense need to start playing in tandem then we’ll have no one to blame when we lose but ourselves.