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)

IN PLAIN SIGHT: COVID and mental health

NotesfromPoland.com

A lot of times, people drown in plain sight. Largely because most of us haven't been taught what to look for. We're accustomed to the movie version of a person struggling in the water — flailing their arms and shrieking and gymnastic — but in real life drowning is quieter, something you could see and not realize. It's never been harder than it is now, in 2020, as we're all locked indoors, alone, out of sight.

Every year, an estimated one million people worldwide kill themselves. A death every 40 seconds.

America is in the throes of a suicide epidemic, with the highest suicide rate since World War II. Suicide rates have risen 30 percent since 1999, and the number keeps climbing. There were 45,000 suicide deaths in 2016 alone. In 2017, there were 47,000. Roughly 129 people a day.

In 2018, 10.7 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.3 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide. There were 48,344 recorded suicides. That's roughly one person every 11 minutes. And that's 1,171 more people than the year before. The average American knows 600 people. Meaning, the increase of suicide deaths in one year was more than double the number of people you know. And that's just the difference.

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in this country. It is the second leading cause of death among children, and since 2000, there has been a worrying jump in the suicide rate of 15-to-24-year-olds.

In January, USA Today ran an article about the rising suicide rates, "More and more Americans are dying by suicide. What are we missing?

That was January. Three months before the pandemic sent all of us indoors.

An article in The BMJ, a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, points that "Widely reported studies modeling the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates predicted increases ranging from 1% to 145%." In other words, "We really don't know."

So we can't prove exactly how much damage the pandemic and the lockdowns have caused, or how many suicides there have been this year compared to last year because those numbers will take a while to assemble. But we can get an idea by measuring the scope and prevalence of the conditions that lead to suicide, and they are significantly higher in 2020. Because what's not in doubt is that the pandemic has gravely affected people's mental health.

Affect on Adults

For starters, while suicides tend to drop at the start of pandemics, they quickly increase in response to the conditions of quarantine. It's also true that suicide rates increase during recessions.

A study in Science Advances journal noted that "as the rates of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths increased substantially across the United States, COVID-19–related acute stress and depressive symptoms increased over time in the United States." A CDC report from August found that in 2020 compared to 2019, adults' symptoms of anxiety have tripled and symptoms of depression have quadrupled (24.3% versus 6.5%). Compared to 2018, two different studies concluded that symptoms of depression and "serious psychological distress" are triple the level they were. In fact, the rates of anxiety and depression have been higher throughout the pandemic than "after other large-scale traumas like September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and the Hong Kong unrest." Ten percent of Americans surveyed in June said they had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days.

French philosopher Albert Camus once wrote that "In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

Well, we find ourselves — literally and figuratively — in the depths of winter.

Well, we find ourselves — literally and figuratively — in the depths of winter.

Lockdowns

A number of studies warn about the danger posed by lockdowns. One in particular, published in Lancet, summarizes it well: "Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Some researchers have suggested long-lasting effects."

The report is very clear about how to minimize the harm of quarantine: Give people as much information as possible, reduce boredom, improve communication, emphasize altruism, and keep lockdowns as short as possible.

Affect on Children

The pandemic and the lockdowns have been especially difficult, and even fatal, for one group in particular, but you might not have heard about it because the media is too obsessed with identity politics to stop for a moment and look at the bigger picture. I'm talking about the most important population: Children.

But they aren't dying of Covid. In fact, children are more likely to die of homicides, drowning, or even fires and burns, than they are to die of Covid. The Academy of Pediatrics reported that, as of December 3rd, children accounted for slightly more than 0% of all COVID-19 cases, and even fewer deaths, about 0.11%, about 160 in total. There are still 15 states with zero reported child deaths. They don't even catch it as often: They account for less than 2% of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases globally. Even here in America, the nation with the highest infection rates, that number is the same: 2%. And, when they do catch it, the overwhelming majority of them experience either no symptoms or mild symptoms. Another recent study found that, compared to the flu, children play a minimal role in spreading Covid-19, and most children who contract it actually get it from their parents.

So they rarely catch it, they almost never die because of it, and they don't spread it. Yet, according to data from the CDC, the rate of children visiting emergency rooms has skyrocketed. Compared with 2019, the number of 5-11-year-olds is 24% higher, while the rate for 12-17-year-olds is 31% higher. This surge is due to mental health reasons.

According to a ton of studies (Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here), during the pandemic, children of all ages have "had high rates of depression, anxiety, and pos-traumatic symptoms as expected in the aftermath of any disaster."

The reality is unequivocal: The lockdowns and quarantines are bad for children. Certainly much, much worse than the disease itself, a point Donald Trump was heckled by the media for making. We waded through a sea of studies, reports, and articles, and the consensus was so consistent that we shifted our focus to looking for studies that said otherwise.

The International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction released a study this month that found that three in four children have reported having depression, and that "the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children's mental well-being is worrying 60% of parents, according to a survey by parents with primary-aged children and 87% reported that their children were missing school and less than half stated that their children were feeling lonely, which altogether affects their children's mental health and wellbeing."

One study found that children of all age groups "showed more clinging, inattention, and irritability. However, 3-6 year-olds were more likely to manifest clinginess and fear that family members might contract the infection, while 6-18 year-olds were more likely to show inattention and persistent inquiry." Another study found that "In many households, children who end up staying indoors become restless and, in some cases, violent."

Children need predictability... and they need to believe that their parents are in control of things.

Uncertainty, social isolation, and parental angst. Children need predictability, they need activities, and they need to believe that their parents are in control of things. But, as a result of draconian lockdowns, they have spent much more time in front of screens. They are also more susceptible to sleep disruptions, or "somatic symptoms." And they are at a much higher risk for sexual abuse and domestic abuse, and, without school, unable to escape it.

Like us, they'll be dealing with the long term effects of the pandemic and lockdown for the rest of their lives. The difference is, we're more equipped to handle it.

One report refers to the undue harm lockdowns cause children as "collateral damage," adding that "we all have a responsibility to promote the health and well-being of children at home, and to ask questions and fight for service provision in areas where clinicians are not needed to fight COVID-19 but are needed to protect children."

As a society, it is our duty to protect the defenseless, and there is no group of people more defenseless, yet more important, than children.

German philosopher Kant wrote a lot about suicide. His argument can basically be boiled down to two parts:

1) I ought to do my duty as long as I am alive; and

2) It is my duty to go on living as long as possible.

He used the anecdote of civilization as a human body. We must only harm our body if it's necessary for self-preservation. If a toe is necrotic for whatever reason, we amputate it, so that we can preserve our body, our person, as a whole. Suicide, on the other hand, is an act of destruction. It is harmful, not just to the person it removes from humanity, but to humanity as a whole. Each of us plays a role in making sure that body remains in motion. So, when a person resorts to suicide, they are harming the body, the whole, they are depriving society and humanity. They are severing limbs or slicing our arms. They are robbing us of every good that they would bring.

School

Most European countries have closed their schools. According to UNESCO, 91% of children worldwide have been affected by school closures. A study from Bangladesh found that Bangladeshi children were suffering from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorder. In Italy and Spain, one study determined that 85% of parents have noticed negative changes in their children's emotions and behaviors since the pandemic. In England, deaths by suicide among children increased shortly after the country's first lockdown. In Holland, a study "found that young people reported a significant increase in severe anxiety and sleeping problems during the country's lockdown period." Numerous studies from China found that roughly a quarter of children were suffering from the same symptoms. In India, like many other countries, children are spending so much time in front of screens that experts fear it will lead to "psycho-social problems, like lower self-esteem."

Meanwhile, in Sweden, where schools and childcare centers have remained open, the spread of Covid as a result of children attending school is practically nonexistent. Over the next few years, research will show us exactly how Sweden's no-lockdown approach affected their youth.

The research concludes that children should remain in school.

Overwhelmingly — and I mean overwhelmingly — the research concludes that children should remain in school. Academic articles are known for their boring, long-winded, incomprehensible titles, but not these. Like this one: "Mitigate the effects of home confinement on children during the COVID-19 outbreak."

Children need physical activity, which is crucial to minimizing depression and anxiety. Schools provide structure. Schools are a consistent source for children's nutrition, and a lapse in nutrition can have psychological effects. Schools also provide healthcare.

School closures have also put children at a higher risk of domestic violence or sexual abuse, because "school is a safe space where children can report problems and where signs of abuse can be detected."

Children need community. They need friends. While many adults are at home with their kids, most of us are working, and children left alone on workdays are more likely to have anxiety or depression.

Teenagers

According to the CDC, of every demographic, 18-24-year-olds have been most affected, with 75% of respondents in that age range reporting at least one negative mental health symptom. One-quarter said they were using more drugs and alcohol to cope with pandemic-related stress, and another one-quarter said they had "seriously considered suicide" in the previous 30 days.

No prom. No graduation. No church. No dates. No birthday parties — birthdays spent alone. No games. No homecoming. No extracurricular clubs. No sports. No Spring Break — no vacations at all. No funerals, although there are plenty of people being buried.

Teenagers in lockdown are more concerned about their more basic needs. They feel less connected to other people. They are learning less and spending less time on school work. In other words, they are hurting, and bad.

The number of studies that back this up is daunting.

Three papers (Here, Here, and Here) determined that older adolescents suffer more symptoms of depression than younger ones and children. Another study describes the "collective trauma" that the lockdowns have had on teenagers.

The National 4-H Council found that:

●81% of teens say mental health is a significant issue for young people in the U.S., and 64% of teens believe that the experience of COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on their generation's mental health.

●7 in 10 teens have experienced struggles with mental health.

●55% of teens say they've experienced anxiety, 45% excessive stress, and 43% depression.

●61% of teens said that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their feeling of loneliness.

●82% of teens calling on America to talk more openly and honestly about mental health issues in this country.

Life has always been hard for teenagers, but even before the pandemic, it has been especially rough on American teenagers, who are twice as likely "today to have more anxiety symptoms and twice as likely to see a mental health professional as teens in the 1980s.

Here's how the conversation went on radio:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: The politics of COVID-19 is DESTROYING our children youtu.be


On "Glenn TV" this week, Megyn Kelly, host of the "Megyn Kelly Show," told Glenn Beck she believes the Democrats' talk of unity is "all nonsense" and forecasted the "death of journalism" under a Biden administration.

Megyn cited President Joe Biden's unwillingness to make concessions that would help unify Democrats and Republicans as an example of how much he actually cares about unity, and added that, while she's all for lowering the political temperature in America, she also believes there are some personal freedoms that are worth fighting for.

"What's happening substantively is worth fighting for and it's not going to go away just because [Biden] gave a nice speech," Megyn said.

"I will object. I will protect my family and what I think is right over Joe Biden's need for unity, which is false anyway. 'Unify behind my agenda' is not a real call for unity," she added.

Megyn said she believes the Left has reached too far and "awakened a sleeping giant" in reference to the silent majority who should speak up, speak out, and refuse to be silenced any longer.

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:

Because the content of this show is sure to set off the censors, the full episode is only be available on BlazeTV. Get $30 off a one-year subscription to BlazeTV with the code "GLENN." With BlazeTV, you get the unvarnished truth from the most pro-America network in the country, free from Big Tech and MSM censors.

As the Senate prepares for former President Trump's second impeachment trial, many are asking whether it's constitutional to try a president after leaving office. Alan Dershowitz, lawyer and host of the of "The Dershow," joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to talk about the legal battles Trump still faces.

Dershowitz said he believes the Senate doesn't have the authority to convict Trump, now that he's a private citizen again, and thus can't use impeachment to bar him from running for office again.

"The Constitution says the purpose of impeachment is to remove somebody. He [Trump] is out of office. There's nothing left to do.
It doesn't say you can impeach him to disqualify him for the future. It says, if you remove him you can then add disqualification, but you can't just impeach somebody to disqualify them," Dershowitz said.

"The Senate can't try ordinary citizens. So once you're an ordinary citizen, you get tried only in the courts, not in the Senate. So it's clearly unconstitutional," he added.

Dershowitz, who served on Trump's legal team during the first impeachment trial, also discussed whether he thinks Trump is legally (or even just ethically) responsible for the Capitol riot earlier this month, and whether those engaging in violence could be considered "domestic terrorists."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

A new, shocking CBS News poll shows that the majority of Americans believe they're facing a new enemy: other Americans.

More than two-thirds of poll respondents said they believe democracy in the U.S. is "threatened," and 54% said "other people in America" are the "biggest threat to the American way of life," rather than economic factors, viruses, natural disasters, or foreign actors.

Will it be possible to unite our nation with statistics like that? On "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn and Stu discussed the poll numbers and what they mean for our future.

Watch the video clip below:

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Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.