What is Team-Think? I’ll Tell You

Like any sport fan I love when my team wins. Not only wins, but completely obliterates another team. I like to see the demoralization on the other players’ faces. I like the fact that my team (the team I root for) has showed that they are just THAT MUCH better. But that’s also because it’s a sport in which nothing really matters. It’s a game, entertainment, and the following week I can shrug off the win or loss and get all up set all over again if my team plays poorly. Such is the nature of sport fans.

A thought struck me–it’s been striking for a while–that many people identify with a sports team because of their region, which in many ways dictates culture, or at least a part of it. And with culture comes the belief in certain ideals. And so when your team wins, it makes you feel like your ideals and your culture is better than whomever’s your team was playing against.

This is politics.

And Hillary has won the democratic nomination. And you may not like this. You may feel, like many others, that the system was rigged. That the media portrayed Bernie unfairly–didn’t give him enough air time.

Sure, I’m from Seattle (a city that showed overwhelming support for Bernie) and when the Seahawks lose, I say things like, “if the ref hadn’t called XXX” maybe we would have won. Is the game rigged? Were the refs paid off? Probably not–but maybe.

Is the political system unfair? Yes. It certainly is. And the fact we don’t have state funded campaigns is a huge problem. But there’s another problem. It’s the team mentality. It’s the identification of ones self, it’s the understanding of WHO YOU ARE, you identity, with a certain team or candidate that may be the biggest problem of all. Hillary, despite what conservative voices will say, is a great candidate. Is she part of the political system–yes–but when did experience in the system become a con on your resume? If she had no experience, surely, that would be more worrisome? But maybe not. This is the danger of Team-Think. The danger of feeling as though whoever beats your team must be bad or wrong could very well see a racist, bigoted, self serving businessman with zero experience in politics become president.

Emotions and identity of self play a big part in politics, but don’t, please don’t let emotions and a false sense of tethered identity to a single candidate or team, get in the way of making the right decision. Because, unlike the Seahawks, these people aren’t playing football–which, by and large just doesn’t matter. These people can have a lasting impact on our way of life and the world. Don’t vote like a sports fan with emotion. Vote like a scholar with your brain.

For Love of The Game

This month is chalked full of amazing soccer games. My love of soccer is rivaled, perhaps, only by my lover of writing, and this month soccer may win out. Why? Because two huge international competitions are being held. First, and already in progress, is the Copa America Centenario, the 100th anniversary of the oldest international soccer tourny in the world. On June 10th the European Championship begins in France, which is also bound to be extraordinary.

The other day, however, I went to a game in Seattle. Now, Seattle Sounder fans are a bit notorious for being Seattle fans first and soccer fans second–sadly the attendance at this game showed the truth of this all too well. The match was between Haiti and Peru. Two teams that never make the big stage of the World Cup. Peru has potential, and they showed flashes of it against Haiti, but Haiti never makes the World Cup and typically is a completely overlooked country in much more than just soccer.

The stadium is a 67,000 pot, but only 20,000 people came for the game. This is a major international competition, and yes, these were B teams of the tournament. They don’t have the recognizable players like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico do, but a love for the game is supporting the games that are smaller–because the play can still be great, the game exciting. But Seattle fans are fans of themselves, it seems, not so much of the sport.

On the 14th Argentina and Bolivia will face off in Seattle, and I expect attendance to be much higher then. If Messi is likely to step onto the field, more people are likely to show up.

The European Championship, on the other hand, is stacked for some intriguing and exiting matches. Germany must be the clear favorite. Their dominance in the 2014 World Cup was incredible and amazing to witness. But Spain, France, Italy, Holland, and even England, can’t ever be ruled out. Then there are the dark horses, or sleepers. Wales has made the Euros for the first time (maybe ever, I’m not sure), as has Iceland–which I’m hoping show well for themselves as it’s one of my top destinations for future traveling. With so much soccer coming up I don’t know how I’ll get anything done at all this month.

Us Against The World

When I met my dad on the mainland he picked me up in his old Toyota and we’d drive south to meet Amy, the lady who was suppose to teach me how to read and write like the kids in my class. Unfortunately for me, however, the appointment was on Mondays so I missed Monday Night Football which really hurt because my older brother and I would watch Monday Night Football every week and even though I didn’t really care about the teams or know the players, it was still fun to hang out with him. Instead my dad and I listened to the game as we drove. 710 KIRO radio was okay, ┬ábut wasn’t the same as watching it with Ryan, my big brother.

One thing that was a real plus, though, was that my dad would take me to Burger King, which was one of the few times I’d got to eat fast food. We’d both order woppers from the drive-thru and sodas and it felt really good to have him driving and the radio on, listening to the game and sipping soda and eating junk my mom wouldn’t have wanted us to eat, because right then, it felt like we were sorta on a team–like the guys playing football, but for my dad and I, it was us against the world and the English language which I would surely figure out with this extra special help him and my mom were paying for. I remember using napkins meticulously to cover my lap so I wouldn’t spill anything in the car, which was the first time I can remember being particular about something–I hated spilling food. I still do.

Then we arrived at Amy’s office and in the winter it would be raining and dark and it didn’t make me want to read or write or think hard at all.

Amy was a nice lady, even if she tried to get me to do stuff I really didn’t like. Her office was behind a house and it smelled sorta new, maybe it had been painted recently or something. She had shoulder length blond hair–really straight, and a horsey face and wide smile with white teeth. We sat in a room covered with inspirational posters that seemed cheesy and vague to me. Now I only remember them as colors. She asked me to read different children’s books that weren’t interesting at all. Then we would do worksheets that built my vocabulary, but also, I suspect, attempted to instill the rules of “problem” letter combos in me so I could understand combinations like GH, TH, SH, CH, and more.

At this point I knew pretty well how to read the easy words like THE, because the shape of the word itself was pretty easy to remember, even if the rules that made the sound and meaning THE weren’t. It’s funny that my parents spent all this money for this specialist to help be, because in the end the thing that helped me the most was just down the road, and my dad and I just stumbled upon it.