On Team Sports and Politics

The following post originally appeared on Medium.

I am not a sports fan. My knowledge of sports is, shall we say, limited... I sort of understand why people are so passionate about sports, the same way I understand why some people are so passionate about Crossfit. But I don’t want any part of either of them.

The fact that I couldn’t care less about sports leaves me feeling left out of the “boys club,” but it also gives me a different perspective on the passion (fanaticism?) of the fans. I’m amazed at how strongly they can affect people. My co-hosts are perfect examples.

Pat Gray, one of my best friends, is one of the most loyal, smart and kind people I know. There are times when my emotions get the best of me, and Pat is always there to add a calming perspective about faith and principles.

RELATED: Those Standing on Principle Are in Good Company

Unless it’s the Monday following a BYU football loss, which seems to be happening a lot lately.

In that case, my week begins with a breathless review of every broken play, every stupid decision by the coach, and a lengthy biography of every communist traitor that the NCAA has dared to employ as a referee. I should mention, Pat did not go to BYU, he doesn’t know any of the players, and their home games are played 1,200 miles away from his home. Yet, his whole life is affected by the results of these games.

I’ve even seen his morning destroyed by what happened in a BYU rugby match. I didn’t even know BYU had a rugby team. I’m not even sure BYU knew they had a rugby team. They do, as it turns out, and they’ve actually won four straight national championships — just ask Pat.

I’ve worked with Stu Burguiere going on 20 years. He was born in New York and grew up in Connecticut so, naturally, he is a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan. Throughout the week, you can tune in to hear Stu complain about government spending on feel-good green energy. On Sundays, you can hear him cheering on a team named after a symbol of the New Deal, in a stadium lined with wind turbines and solar panels. His stated position: “I’ve made it through 40 years without a Super Bowl, I think I can power through anything short of an ISIS endorsement.”

Pat and Stu are relentlessly dedicated to their sports teams; and they are not alone. More than half of all adult Americans — and 100% of real men, I’m told — proudly call themselves sports fans.

Let’s dig into one of the great rivalries in sports history (my thanks to an anonymous friend who assisted me with this analogy): The Lakers and the Celtics in the 1980s.

Imagine you’re a Lakers fan in the early 80s and Jerry West trades Magic to the Celtics for Bird. Later, he trades Worthy for McHale and Parish for Jabbar? Then, the next year, Pat Riley and K.C. Jones switch teams. Then imagine that the next year after that, the Lakers decide to wear green and white and the Celtics go with purple and gold. And, finally, a year after that, in case your head isn’t already spinning, the Lakers move to Boston and the Celtics move to LA. And with that last move, the NBA logo man, Jerry West, goes to the Celtics as the GM.

At any point, based on the players, the coaches, the team colors or even the location of the team — would you switch allegiances?

RELATED: Many Voters Have Already Conquered the Mountain of Accepting Trump’s Behavior

What about when the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis? Colts fans, did that drive a stake through your hearts? Or did you say to yourself, “business is business — they needed a new stadium”? What happened when the Ravens became Baltimore’s team? If you were still a Colts fan, did you suddenly become a Raven’s fan?

What if your team cheats? What if they get caught and fined for recording another team’s practice or deflating balls? Do you remain loyal because they’re still winning? I mean, “winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,”[1] right? Or is there virtue in playing by the rules?

I could go on and on...

My understanding, from my friends who are sport fans, is that they would identify with Stu’s position — short of their team endorsing ISIS, they are true blue and would never give up on their team.

Why? Because it is their team. What makes some entity that charges you a lot of money to go to the game, makes you pay through the nose for mediocre food and blacks-out local broadcasts if they fail to sell enough tickets to the game deserving of your loyalty is beyond me. BUT — and this is a big but — the reality is it does not matter. I don’t mean to the sports fan; I mean in life. It does not matter if you are a Lakers fan or a Celtics fan, an Eagles fan or a Giants fan or, as depressing as this may be, a Miami Dolphins fan (like the president of my company). The world won’t change based on who you root for or why.

In sports, the teams with the most disastrous histories of losing become incubators for the best fans. We call these fans “die hards” because their teams are seemingly always trying to kill them. This sort of blind loyalty is only excusable in the world of sports because it means nothing. It does not impact our jobs or our economy or our society — it is, at the end of the day, just a game. In any other context, this sort of blind loyalty would be — and is — insane.

As it relates to politics, the appropriate level of team loyalty is zero.

As George Washington (and our founders) warned us — blind loyalty in our system of politics has real ramifications. The Red and the Blue of our political environment pits us against one another — our team against their team. Our politics should not define us. An Eagles fan should be able to be friends with and respect a Giants fan (and vice versa), and they can and are. But this same bi-partisan respect does not exist in our politics today.

But it is worse than that. The political climate today, besides being team focused, is closer to the hypothetical Lakers vs. Celtics scenario I proposed above than to what typically happens in sports.

The GOP did stand for small government, free trade, the protection of the unborn, the Constitution, etc... But what is it now?

The Democrats were “for the little guy” who couldn’t do it alone, they were against the big banks, they were against spying and drone warfare... But what does the party stand for today?

If your party dumps its principles and proceeds to engage in the sort of behavior that you wouldn’t accept from a toddler, you should abandon that party — immediately. Loyalty to your party in the face of constant abuse doesn’t make you a brave and virtuous soldier, it makes you a helpless, yet complicit victim.

We are the most dynamic country in history. For us to have allowed ourselves to be held captive by the parties is one thing, but to willingly settle into what feels like a perpetual state of Stockholm Syndrome is quite another. Too many people seem to be willing to defend their party’s decision to abandon its principles for no other reason than the good of the “team”. But this isn’t a game — this stuff actually matters. If the team changes, are we obligated to change with them? If they lie, must we become liars in defense of the team?

Watching the VP debate was enlightening, though not surprising. Seeing Gov. Pence, who I believe is a good man, allow himself to be made a liar, in his defense of a liar, was shameful. Watching Gov. Kaine acting like an ass (although I’ve heard he is a really good and decent man) is beneath him — and us: But all in the name of the team.

RELATED: Did Kaine’s Debate Plan Include Being the Most Obnoxious Man on Earth?

If you’re like me, you look at Washington and ask how these people (not just the VP candidates, but also the strategists, the “elites,” the elected officials, etc.) can live with themselves? How can they go back on their principles the moment they feel it may benefit them to do so? Does this not bother them?

It’s because it’s all about the team. It’s blind loyalty to a mindless cause — likely starting with what they believe are good reasons. (If I don’t go along, I will be voted out, and then what? How much difference can I make from the outside?) But likely ending with a desire for power and control.

Why do we allow the ends to justify the means and the letter that follows the name to supersede everything?

As John Adams said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Many have written that 2016 has been an unmitigated disaster, filled with tragic deaths, terrible events, and the universe’s worst political candidates this side of Kang and Kodos.

A lot of the time, I feel exactly the same way.

But these moments of real strife can be the moments of real character. Challenge yourself. Ponder and pray. Don’t let your vote be a passive matter of partisan habit. Think beyond one election and think about who you are, what type of country and society you want and what type of leadership we deserve?

What would 2016 look like in a world rid of the political “teams”? What would 2020 and beyond look like? Would we have the two least likable politicians EVER? Would we have two proven liars running out the clock in hopes that the other will screw up badly enough to cost him/her the game? OR would we have an engaged citizenry demanding that its politicians comport themselves with decency and reflect the principles that they actually believe in?

Has either candidate earned your vote? Or are you just voting against the other one? Don’t get me wrong, I get the “binary choice” argument — but don’t we want more? Don’t we deserve more?

RELATED: Binary Choices Lead to Walls, Condemnation and Destruction

We can do better. We must demand more. No more of this blue team vs. red team nonsense. Let’s focus on the principles of the men and women we elect and stop treating the future of our country as if it were a game. It isn’t.

[1] Hat tip to Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders.

Featured Image: Professional American football player diving whilst being tackled during game in outdoors stadium under dramatic sky at sunset (credit: Pali Rao)

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.