'Star' always depends on the whole team

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I am a sports fan. Being more specific, I am a fan of golf and baseball -- not so much on football, basketball, soccer or midget wrestling.

But as I think about it, I'm not honestly a fan of sports so much as I am a fan of specific athletes.

I follow the achievements of Albert Pujols and Tiger Woods with an obsessive zeal. And, in discussions with others, I find a whole host of "fans" who actually just follow the ups and downs of these two athletes.

Clearly both Pujols and Woods are in their own private league.

I have no problem with a loss by the St. Louis Cardinals if Pujols did well. And in those rare occasions when Tiger Woods is not in contention, I switch the channel.

So in fact, I am not so much a sports fan as I am a fan of these two extraordinary athletes.

Truth be told, I cannot name the members of the Cardinal roster, but I can tell you exactly how Pujols is doing in all statistical categories. I also cannot name with any certainty the winners of any golfing event this year, but I can cite with great specificity the details of Tiger's stats on any given day.

Now I recognize this is a substantial leap in comparison, but in many ways this interest in player-over-team is a snapshot of our current national political obsession.

I think far too many people follow the exploits of our star player -- Barack Obama -- at the expense of the team. In this case, of course, the team is the good ol' U.S. of A.

As long as Obama's poll numbers remain strong, a substantial portion of hard-core Obama fanatics pay little attention to the progress of the team. Those die-hard Obama supporters can easily ignore the economy, the growing unrest in the world and the socialization of this country because their "star" remains in strong territory.

But, unlike my interest in Pujols or Woods, to ignore how the team is doing in Obama's case is a dangerous trend. Yet millions upon millions of Americans are exactly that way when it comes to Team Obama.

Our team can be losing ground, but it's OK because our "star" remains popular in the minds of most Americans.

To adopt this approach toward sports is one thing. To do so in the national interest is a much different situation.

Yes, I can turn off my television if Tiger is doing poorly or if Pujols is having an off day. But if our team is losing despite the success of our "star," then we still have troubles. And these troubles are not relegated to the sports page. These are headlines that affect each of our lives and our children's lives.

Freedom and liberty are team sports. We cannot and should not be following the exploits of our "star" and should instead concentrate on how our team is doing.

In our case, the "star" may continue strong in the polls but the team is suffering a let-down.

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