Sports, Politics And A Question

I hate sports analogies, but sometimes, they’re useful.

I’d like to pose a question based on such an analogy to the significant number of Americans who choose a political party and thereafter “root” for it in much the same way they do their favored sports teams: policy, shmolicy, it’s my guys, right or wrong!


Let’s say you are a diehard fan of a particular sports franchise. In this alternate universe I’m positing, the owner of the franchise has lots of draft choices and is choosing someone to be on “your” team.

Would you be happy if he chose to add someone to the team who had never played the sport? Someone who had never been on any team, major or minor league? Someone who didn’t know the rules governing how the game is played, and displayed no interest in learning either those rules or the basic strategies of the game?

If, for some unfathomable reason, the owner did choose this person to join the team, and  placed him in a prominent position, how would you react when he refused to listen to the coaches and boasted that he was smarter than they were? What would you think when he insulted the referees/umpires and refused to abide by their decisions, telling everyone within earshot that the officials couldn’t be fair to him–that they only made calls against him because they came from an inferior background and that’s why they were always yammering about “the rules”?

How would you feel when he constantly attacked the sportswriters who covered the games, accusing them of “making up” stories about his errors (even the ones on camera, the ones everyone could see for themselves)? How about when he engaged in abusive (and frequently misspelled) twitter rants about the missteps of his teammates or opponents, and excoriated sportswriters for writing more about his (numerous and embarrassing) errors than the mistakes of those others?

These are actually peripheral questions, of course.

The most important consequence of the team owner’s choice–the entirely foreseeable result of drafting a self-important blowhard who has no idea what teamwork is or how the game is played or even what the game is–is that his participation immediately drags your team down, makes it play badly.  So badly, in fact, that the entire league suffers. Fans depart, attendance dwindles, sportswriters–even those who usually cover other sports, and live in other countries– make fun of your team for its ineptitude and criticize your league for not stepping in to do something about the constant disregard for the rules. The owner can no longer persuade good players to join the team, so the errors and fumbles get worse.

Meanwhile, the team’s longtime rival wins games, and gains fans and prestige.

But hey–it’s your team, right? So even when you realize that the owner is keeping this guy on the team because he’s a useful distraction–a goofball whose antics are keeping people from focusing on the deal the owner has made with the other owners to change league rules in a way that will enrich them at the expense of fans like you–why do you keep attending the games, contributing to the “gate,” and rooting for “your” team?

When does team loyalty stop making sense?


  1. Good analogy, but I don’t think fan loyalty is the point right now. The team owners and league owners are making money. THAT’s what matters, metaphorically. And probably in the real world, too. Allow me to mix metaphors here, but all the rest of us are just dust under their chariot wheels. Or possibly deserving, in their view, of our fate.

  2. A nice, midday analogy, Shiela. Your pain and suffering are evident in your writings lately. As you know, I share those conditions.

    To extend the analogy to closer to reality, you are describing the true believer syndrome. Yes, some of the “fans” will abandon the team, but there will be an ever-hard core who will stay with the team an owner no matter what. The Cleveland Browns and Donald Trump have that in common. Both are fundamentally mismanaged or are mismanaging to the nth degree.

    As I’ve said before, in my more cynical moments, these true believers won’t change and acquire reason until they can’t afford their Bud Light (A-B had to shorten the name so their buyers wouldn’t lose interest) or have their TV remote taken away because they couldn’t pay for cable anymore. Otherwise, it will be racism, bigotry and false pride that will persist throughout the period of abject failure.

  3. The analogy isn’t quite right. The owner hired the buffoon who dragged the team down, not the fans. As a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in the 40s and 50s, when they stumbled around to the point that one year they managed to blow a 13 and a half game lead in August – and lost the pennant to the Giants, my attachment never wavered. In fact, the fans continued to go to games. Walter O’Malley was making money in Brooklyn, but he knew he could make more in L.A, so he moved the team.

    But considering the point you are trying to make, perhaps the analogy is better than I thought, because as I said, the fans never wavered.

  4. Note to Vernon Turner (above): Your bad? Well I was always taught the spelling rule “I” before “E” except after “C” and when sounding like “A” as in “neighbor” and “weigh”. So Ms. Kennedy must be the exception, too. That comes as absolutely no surprise to me….her observations are exceptional and so is she.

  5. Guess everyone is out voting. I hope. A friend said she couldn’t vote because she got a panic attack when she tried. Another friend said basically the same thing. Being old and having raised a bunch of kids like we have gave us thick skin.
    This story is so true and funny, I have to tell it. It’s from two publications. Rick Perry can barely talk and Trump is so ignorant, that Perry has convinced Trump that Perry is pro-coal and Trump hasn’t caught on yet.

  6. Observatus,

    Thanks for the defense. I too am a prisoner of rules. Every time I edit a manuscript, I find new “adjustments”.

    We agree that Sheila’s blog is exceptional. Then, there is so much fodder for all of us to examine on a daily basis: What will the orange hairball do today to heap more disgrace on our nation?

  7. His base likes it this way, that someone unqualified can get power and position. Too many of them are shut out due to lack of education or skills and furious that their genitals and skin are no longer enough.

  8. Those who are rooting for Trump elected him because he was going to bring Washington down and that is precisely what they wanted after years of being told that government is the problem. They are delighted in his work so far, destruction is everywhere. So they cheer on. Unfortunately that which has been destroyed
    is being replaced simply by chaos and anarchy and increasing agony. Three hundred and thirty million people need to have a way to constitute themselves as a nation. The destroying angel isn’t interested in that part of the game.Instead he has cut all adrift, except for his cronies. But his fans cheer on.

    And Ebbets Field and Polo Grounds are gone. Destroyed. I dread to think what goes next.

  9. There’s an old Irish blessing, “May you live in interesting times.” After these times, it seems more like a curse. I agree with those who say the true fan will never waiver. Remember fan is short for fanatic.

  10. I don’t watch ball games anymore. Haven’t for a real long time. I rid myself of rooting for one team over another. Decided the tribal identification to do so was as damaging and senseless as religion or war, and probably sprang from the same anachronistic, now dysfunctional, set of instincts.
    But what I did notice about them was that you never knew who would win until the end.

  11. “When does team loyalty stop making sense?”

    When personal integrity and workability for all are compromised. Ironic, isn’t it, that our $400,000 emblazoned motto doesn’t say Indiana is “a state that works FOR ALL”? Perhaps we could start there, in sports, in politics, and in Life.

    Sportscasters shine compared to newscasters. Sportscasters can talk for days about sports, cover every team, every player, every transaction, with energy and knowledge…and do so without bias for one team over the rest, with equanimity and journalistic honesty and never struggle to fill segments of air time. And they are fastidious about identifying that occasional five minutes of editorializing, distinctly setting it apart from sports news.
    The self-inflated often scoff at the education that sports figures get while playing their sport in college. But if an alien being watched a few hours each of sportscasts and newscasts, he/she/it would swear that it is the newscasters whose degrees were given to them, who rarely attended classes, and who dropped out of school for early entry into professional news…and in regard to ethics and scruples, there is no comparison.

    Another lesson from sports has to do with unum—the unum of e pluribus fame. The preponderance of sports figures learn early and well the concept of RESULTS BEING GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS. If they have ever played on a terrific team, they have experienced that phenomenon so completely that all refusal to sacrifice for the greater-than-the-sum result is discarded forever.

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