30 March, 2009

About Team Sports

Maybe it is a direct result of our collective rights to vote? I suppose everyone wants to root for the winning team.

Maybe it is a passionate response to an issue of personal consequence? Maybe we define ourselves in some way by declaring our affiliations? Maybe we merely leap onto the winning bandwagon. Maybe we are desperate to display a sense of identity.

Whatever the reason, perhaps you have noticed recently that America is increasingly polarized. No, not the wearing of sunglasses that reduce glare… I’m talking about the way individuals have allied themselves AND how casual terms in the media have posited groups into rashly generalized formats. Hot or cold? Plus or minus? Left or right? Are you with us or against us? Apparently the gray areas have disappeared entirely or become irrelevant. It’s 100% or nothing!

I believe it was Winston Churchill who delivered the famous quote: “If you are young and not a liberal you have no heart. If you are old and not a conservative you have no brain.” But these days Americans are much more likely to be lumped into one group or another regardless of the truth.

Liberal or conservative has become another team sport like Lakers or Heat, Red Sox or Yankees, Democrat or Republican? Catholic or Protestant... Notre Dame, Chicago Cubs, Pro-Choice… get the picture? It certainly doesn’t help to have arrogant, self possessed ‘ratings seekers’ ply their craft on the air waves every day. So far as I can tell the world of Rush Limbaugh is comprised of Liberals, Conservatives and Appeasers. How very convenient!

It doesn’t end there. Recent television shows divide viewers into camps by giving them the chance to vote on the best singer. Rueben Stoddard or Clay Aikens... which were you? The best dancer, the best employee, the best bride or groom or actor or Hilton! Who will be voted off the island next? We feel exonerated if we have chosen correctly. There have been other contests since.

So what are you? Coke or Pepsi? Import or Domestic? Cotton or Polyester? East coast, west coast… it is a continual game of ‘one-ups-man-ship’. Can you bake a cherry pie… well I can!