Something can be said for having worthwhile adversaries relative to gamesmanship, engendering the competitive spirit, and ultimately the testosterone rush of “the win.” The University of Michigan, Ohio state rivalry game has been the exciting end to a regular seasons of college football for literally generations of Michiganders. It carries with it the bragging rights, incredible physical feats, and memories of great plays, and has also provided more than a few surprise endings.
With it comes the huff and puff of dominance, fierce challenges, and often enough, the shame of mistakes that even the fans take all too seriously. And though it is “merely” a game, one might think there are literally lives on the line with each win or loss. Some folks are quite serious about their football, and even I like to reserve my Saturdays, and most certainly that last one on Michigan’s list, for a adrenaline filled afternoon of a great college tradition.
Ohio State usually brings out the best in the Wolverine game plan. And one side loses, the other walks away knowing there is always another day. They know “next year” they will have another opportunity to “settle the score.”
That is how to play the game. And that is how the game has been played in United States for life and politics.. until [relatively] recently.
Neither Michigan nor Ohio State should like to ever win based on poor officiating. One can argue that “a win is a win,” but when games are decided on the bad call from a linesman who ought not make a call 40 yards down field, or a misunderstood procedural rule, even the winners will walk away a little uneasy. I have seen them happen, and it goes both ways. Bad referees make an otherwise great battle on the field into an embarrassing event that angers fans, creates unnecessary calls for rules changes, and leaves the integrity of the game overall, in a state of weakness.
One might argue in the political realm there have always been cheaters, bought off referees, and plenty of poor sportsmanship, but a sound set of rules has nearly always been observed. The most basic rules governing our nation provide the means for effective governance, by providing a sound platform for political and social debate, yet protecting all the players from the unallowed actions of others. It created a level playing field, using liberty and private property as the basis of affirmation of our natural born rights. We all get to play by the same rules, we all start with a chance to return the ball, and yes.. Sometimes we fumble.
Somewhere along the way the rules changed. Though the rule book was altered only slightly, our referees have added a golf term to our national game so-much-like-football. The new term is a “Mulligan,” or “do Over..” Can you imagine how the fans would react if after Michigan intercepts the football for a third time in a quarter, if one of the referees were “empathetic” to Ohio State, and decided Michigan’s magnificent play was null and void? Worse yet, what if the referee said to the Ohio State QB, “don’t worry if you throw another interception, I got you covered?” The game would be quite different from that point on, and somehow I suspect its appeal would disappear along with the emphasis on trying to be the better players.
Life and politics work like that. When your efforts are poor, your rewards usually are poor as well. Sometimes even the best efforts cannot overcome challenges, but will still encourage those efforts to be redoubled.
We are facing the threat of having such a head official confirmed to our supreme court in Sonia Sotomayor. Her empathy might very well ruin this wonderful game of liberty and equality many of us have understood for so long. Equality, in that of opportunity has already been shown to be not on her agenda as seen in the Ricci case.
Sadly, those who would approve her entry to the court themselves have been cheaters as well. They have already moved the ball in favor of one team or another to gain favor when it was time to select new referees. They have created the environment where the rules of the game can oft be ignored, as long as the referee is compensated in some fashion. The ball is not only sometimes moved, but sometimes it seems that a goal made is credited to the opposing team, as was done with the bail outs.
Imagine, the Michigan Wolverines scoring four touchdowns in a row, and the Buckeyes getting three of those added to their side of the scoreboard. Why would either side even try any further?
I Heart the Ohio State Football program. They bring out the best in the University of Michigan football program. They have shown in the past that they were willing to risk the losses, by not allowing the play of certain elements deemed unworthy by morals, ethics, and criminal process. They excluded those who might bring a loss of honor to the program, and bring unacceptable shame to the game. They Play, Live, and by action Endorse the rules of the game.
If only we could have those who would do so well in life and politics.