Because they solve their problems.
And when did you last hear this from Washington: “I’d like to apologize to the fans, that for the last five, six months we’ve been talking about the business of football, not what goes on on the field.”
That from Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, whom players say was instrumental in reaching an amicable agreement, even as his wife was dying of cancer.
Granted, Kraft is a towering figure, and rightly, we have come to expect more from men like Kraft and Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and player rep Jeff Saturday, center for the Indianapolis Colts, well-pictured on the front page of The New York Times this morning, affectionately comforting the mourning Kraft cuddled under his wing; big and bearded, vaguely giving the impression of God the Father. Because America is still healthy in the center, even if it is fraying on the edges, and at the center of the American journey at this moment is football.
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Because they solve their problems.
Those who took a course in journalism years back might recall the famous headline, “Hub man dies in Chicago fire.” It is how the populist press in Boston referred to the great Chicago fire. The fire itself was inconsequential. The big story was that a Boston man died in it.
Boston today is sometimes referred to as “the Hub of Hockey.” Actually the phrase was coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes as “the hub of the solar system,” modified to “the hub of the universe.” Because the universe is not peace, but conflict and countervailing forces.
It was the height of arrogance unless, of course, the assessment was correct and Boston is the hub of the universe. Black Elk said the “center of the world” is wherever you are, so maybe it works like that.
If only Dale Earnhardt Jr. released the Urban Land Institute’s study on America’s $2 trillion crumbling infrastructure earlier this week, we might still be talking about it. A public interest campaign with drivers from Indy and NASCAR, talking about our country’s declining structures and the need to fix them. The issue would have a public face. Maybe then we, the public, would pay attention. After all, outside the Beltway, most of us live the disrepair others write about. Day-to-day slugging through traffic, enduring slow train rides and waiting through endless runway delays, we experience the problem firsthand. Still, the case is not being heard as urgent.
The Washington Nationals open their season today against the Atlanta Braves, which got me to thinking about the connections between baseball and Congress.
Baseball is usually associated with the White House, because of the tradition of presidents throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. That started with William Howard Taft, who threw out the first first pitch in 1910.
Taft was an enormous presence — physically, not so much politically. Despite his efforts to cultivate a more populist persona, he could never overcome the political presence of his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, who ended up running against him in 1912, splitting the Republican base and giving the keys to the White House to Woodrow Wilson.
As the pending government shutdown looms, we might think to let famed quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees run the country. They have offered themselves as plaintiffs in the event of an NFL shutdown, and their instincts for leadership, management, problem-solving and the ability to get along with others is legendary. The NFL lockout clearly runs a parallel with the government shutdown. But compare these quarterbacks and the skills, dedication and physical courage of their teammates to the motley crew in D.C. today.
A country that thinks about football more than it thinks about politics is a healthy country and one with a life force and a future, but sometimes that inattentiveness can let things slip. So we might hold on with Brady, Manning and Brees after the shutdown as a kind of triumvirate and let them form their own Council of Watchers to keep an eye on things while we are watching football.
In his recent missive, titled “Time to Turn Off the National Anthem Before
Sports Events,” Kevin Blackistone argues that the singing of the national anthem
at all sporting events has outlived its purpose. He submits that very few
Americans even know the song, and suggests that still fewer can recall why the
words were written in the first place. There’s nothing about playing tee-ball
that should stir memories of a lopsided British attack on Fort McHenry during
the War of 1812.
“Sports,” Blackistone writes, “have and continue to ritualize [the anthem] with barely a shred of relevance.”
In the words of IFE Fellows, here is what 2010 was all about:
Dog killer or MVP? Michael Vick, in his second season back after serving 23 months in jail for dogfighting, lit up the NFL with his MVP-type performances. Vick's comeback is fascinating because it makes sports fans ask questions that make them very uncomfortable. Can I root for a dog killer? What is more important to me: my love for my team or my love for dogs? Does jail really rehabilitate a person, and since he paid his debt to society, should I forgive Vick?
OMG! news reports that James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host “Hollywood’s biggest night,” the Oscars. Omg! He played the sidekick in “Spiderman,” I think, and she was in that movie that gave away the ending to “Lost.” Suggests we are in a between; a time waiting as Israel waits for David, as Markos Moulitsas and crew from the Daily Kos wait for the Clinton-era people to go away — the time described by the Wu Priesthood as “wu chi”; undifferentiated karma between worlds; imagine there’s no heaven, no country, no religion too. Imagine there’s no Oprah. Imagine Dr. House finally gets a girlfriend. Imagine the new generation finally arising, but for big-screen Hollywood, there won’t be one.
The moment has finally arrived! An Indian, Rohan Bopanna, and a Pakistani, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, have made it to the finals of the U.S. Tennis Open, a Grand Slam event. Hats off to the Indo-Pak Express! The U.S. Open is tennis’s largest event, garnering far and away the most media coverage.
Now it’s spotlighting two world-class athletes and, more importantly, their partnership. What they’re doing takes guts. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since becoming independent in 1947, and remain bitter rivals. For Rohan and Aisam, these facts are history, and should be treated as such.
It does something to see your life pass in pictures, as I did watching a PBS fundraiser of the early Newport Folk Festival. The young Joan Baez was on stage asking the audience, “Is Bobby here?” And Bob Dylan was there and he jumped up on the stage with her. I was there too, sitting somewhere in the audience. Now his voice pops up on “Mad Men,” ominously foreshadowing “something coming” in 1962. And it was coming. Now it’s leaving.