Wissot: Broncos Country is united but our nation isn't – Vail Daily
Opinion Opinion |
Broncos Country, Raider Nation, Packers Nation, like the fan base in all four major sports, passionately support their teams. Fans may argue about which quarterback should be starting or whether a coach should be fired, but they are united in wanting their team to be the last one standing when the season ends. They are true blue, or as the late great Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda used to say, “I bleed Dodger Blue.”
Politics is unlike sports in that we are not all on board with Team America except perhaps when we are at war or competing in the Olympics. In the NFL, the purpose is clear: win the Super Bowl. In politics there is no Super Bowl, no one goal we are collectively trying to achieve. If we as a nation can’t agree on a common purpose then we can’t achieve what we never agreed upon.
It’s why the Trump mantra, “Make America Great Again,” is such a controversial issue. MAGA Republicans want the country to return to a past when they were in charge of the culture, and Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, and the queer community, were expected like children to be seen but not heard. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that these minority groups don’t want to return to a time that for them sucked.
There is an expression in sports that when a coach or manager loses the locker room (no longer has control of the team), receiving a pink slip is just a matter of time. The equivalent in politics is when the electorate sours on an elected official and votes him or her out of office.
Looking at our schizophrenic culture, it’s clear that whoever is elected president from either political party will have lost the locker room to half the country before they take office.
You can’t win the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup if the players harbor hostilities toward one another. Similarly, it’s difficult for a nation to prosper and progress when half the country hates the other half. Chemistry and cohesion are what it takes for sports teams to succeed. Nations are no different. It’s hard to build for the future when the populace is preoccupied with tearing each other apart in the present.
Sports fans from rival teams sitting next to each other in the stands wearing their team’s jerseys are more civil to one another than Democrats and Republicans in Congress. I’d feel safer walking into a bar popular with Chiefs fans wearing my Broncos jersey than showing up at a Trump rally sporting my Biden button.
Players from both the NBA and the NFL embrace each other on the court and on the field after a hard-fought game. It’s a sign of mutual respect that is completely absent in politics today. I really can’t imagine Trump and Nancy Pelosi ever embracing each other.
There is another factor that separates sports from politics: the final score, the outcome, the result. Players may argue about the fairness of a referee’s call in contributing to a win or a loss, but not about who won and lost.
We have sunk to the lower depths of our politics when we can’t agree on who won an election where there was no evidence of fraud. The equivalent in sports would be if last year’s Super Bowl losing team, the Cincinnati Bengals, claimed without proof that the winning Los Angeles Rams cheated and Bengal fans declared themselves the champions by default. If enough fans around the country believed the Bengals’ accusation, the Super Bowl would take the same hit that the Tour de France took in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. I stopped watching the Tour de France after the scandal broke because I wasn’t sure if I was watching a competitive athletic event or a staged theatrical farce like professional wrestling.
At the present time, the sports world is faring better than the political world. Athletes are admired; politicians are reviled. We trust who won a game more than we trust who won an election. We expect sports figures to lie to protect their images and reputations; we don’t expect them to perpetuate a proven lie to keep their jobs the way politicians do.
In sports, athletes who break the rules get punished. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire are all not in the Baseball Hall of Fame because they used banned performance-enhancing drugs to achieve superstardom. Same was true for Pete Rose who was denied entry into Cooperstown over 30 years ago because he bet on baseball games during his time as a big league manager.
The consequences are not the same for politicians. Disseminating disinformation and promoting conspiracy rumors doesn’t get you punished, it gets you a return ticket to Congress. Urging voters who voted for you to engage in violent protests on your behalf isn’t considered despicable, it’s called cementing your base. Being an election denier doesn’t make you a liar, it makes you a fraud fighter. Seeking support from Anti-Semites and White Nationalists isn’t hate-mongering, it’s promoting greater community inclusivity.
The face of American football for the past 20 years is seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. The face of American politics for the past six years is twice impeached Donald J. Trump. I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide which one of these faces represents America at her best.
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