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.


#letsrise – Quick Thoughts on the Toronto Blue Jays and The Hashtag From Hell

I didn’t want to say anything when I first thought this because, like most irrational sports fans and armchair athletes, I am incredibly superstitious and didn’t want to do anything that might jinx my team.  Now that the Jays are solidly in the basement with our Disabled List bearing almost as many impressive names as the current active roster, however, I think it’s safe to assume that we’re well past the jinxing stage and rapidly approaching panic mode. We sit with four wins to thirteen losses for this utterly dismal start to the season. Without Googling, I’m pretty sure it’s not the worst start to a season in the entirety of baseball history, but to steal a sentiment from Pete Campbell on Mad Men when considering how the team I love is doing, I have to think, “Not good, Bob!”

There are a lot of factors at play to blame here, I’m sure. Donaldson started the season at less than 100% and because of that his injury exacerbated itself and now he’s forced to watch from the bench, joined by Tulo, Happ, Sanchez, and I don’t want to take the time to list Pompey and the rest sitting there with them because it’s getting depressing. The team itself is actually playing pretty well for the most part, if not with a little less bluster than expected, and Pillar is a freakin’ superstar so far, but things just aren’t coming together. For me, as what I would consider to be something more than a casual fan but not a statistic spouting fanatic by any means, I don’t see this as a problem with the management or the coaching, and I don’t even blame Jose’s silent bat because I know it’s just a matter of time before that switches back on again (we’ve seen him slump before and everything has turned out fine, so have a little faith, people!).

No, for me, being the kind of fan who runs more on unbridled unreasoned passion and the previously mentioned superstition, I blame that stupid awful and insipid hashtag Jays marketing came up with to represent our season this year:

#letsrise

I had a problem with it from the first second I saw it, for so many reasons that, as I said, I was afraid to talk about for fear of the jinx, but at this point as we’re sweeping the cellar with seemingly few prospects of dropping our brooms and climbing out for at least the next few weeks, so… Yeah.

First of all, the English nerd in me is offended by the lack of an apostrophe. Not to mention that self-same lack of proper punctuation also changes the meaning of the word. They’re trying to say ‘Let us rise’, as in ‘let us rise to the occasion and vanquish our foes’, but instead what they’re saying is ‘lets rise’ as in ‘rent is going up’, so I guess they were really referring to the cost of seats this year?

Second of all, assuming we’re all going to agree to let the grammatical error slip by us and act like it actually does mean ‘let us rise’. It’s still a horribly negative sentiment to start a season with. ‘Let us rise’ presumes we need to lift ourselves up from something. The statement itself, ‘let us rise’, assumes that the top is not where we are or belong. How the hell is that supposed to be inspirational? It’s pretty much saying, “We’re not the best, but hopefully, maybe one day we can be?” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to jump up and scream GO JAYS GO at the top of my lungs. It instead leaves me asking, “Go Jays Go?” I mean, if they can’t make it sound like they believe in themselves, how the hell am I supposed to? I’m superstitious, remember?

So yeah, the experts and people who actually know what they’re talking about can blame injuries, slow bats, Gibby, the back-office, or whatever. And they’re probably, like, a million times more right than I am about what’s going on that has led to this painfully slow start.  But, me?  I blame the marketing team and the person who approved #letsrise in the first place.  That hashtag is a curse, and regardless of balls, strikes, swings, hits, homers, injuries or errors, it all comes down to surrounding ourselves with a negative sentiment. Words have meaning, and words have power. That’s why we use them. Words convey what we’re thinking and what we’re feeling, and hashtags are meant to turn that feeling viral, which I guess worked because look where we are.

The bottom.

With no choice left but to rise.