Iraq: as in Football, Citizens Need to Call Their Own Plays

Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005. Looking through the goalposts at the changing nature of American freedom. Originally from The Providence Journal, Tuesday, December 6, 2005.
By John R. MacArthur.

Football aphorisms and analogies usually leave me cold—such “life lesson” clich├ęs seem designed to pacify an already somnolent population of television-addicted zombies.

Even as a football-loving kid, I suspected there was something truly screwed up about Vince Lombardi's celebrated phrase, “Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.”
Probably none of this would matter much to me if I hadn't played football for Martin J. “Mac” McCarty, a coach who considered excessive sideline intervention anathema to his idea of education. Call it quaint, but Mac sincerely believed that football built character in adolescent boys—that is, if you let the boys play the game. We ran a very simple offense (with some audibles), and with few exceptions Mac insisted on his quarterbacks' calling their own plays in the huddle.
After he retired, in 1988, Mac would call me occasionally to chat. Sometimes our conversation would turn to the degraded state of modern sports and society. To his horror, even North Shore football had changed for the worse: His young successor was calling all the plays from the sidelines, in total contravention of Mac's mantra of independence and initiative. “Jeez,” he would say disgustedly, “the whole point was to learn how to think for yourself out there.”
So is the top-down control of football an apt analogy for the political arena? To be sure, said Robinson. “It's part of the culture. I'm sick to death of the [overly scripted, overly managed politician] not answering the question. But the media deserves the blame, too, because they tear down anybody who says what they think.”

Which led Robinson to President Bush and his latest advertising campaign: “I pick up the paper the other day and there's Bush and the 'Plan for Victory' in Iraq.” The old coach laughed, then added, with some irony, “I wish him well—but the Plan for Victory in Iraq?”

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  1. Sadly very true. We have become a bunch of couch potatoes who want someone to spoon feed us our daily dose of "what's in it for me?" No one reads the paper anymore and our local rag B-MORE HAMMER AND SICKLE looks more and more like the USATOE DAY. Unfortunately the likes of the NYT you can't even trust anymore because they won't do thier homework either. The fact is that NO ONE calls thier own plays save for the few and brave souls who aren't afraid of the world. Why are people like Dr Phil and Oprah so popular? because they tell people how to live thier lives. When was the last time we heard a politician speak the truth about anything? All I hear is backbiting and lip-smacking to get change...just lip service... I feel like getting them in a room with a bunch of us and asking them "what the heck are you talking about?!?!"

  2. What is it going to take for politicians to truly represent the best interests of the people?

    I am afraid that with our current cultural aspect of television doping, that we won't see a change for the better before we see a total disintegration of society. Of course there are exceptions, politicians who do take courageous stands. It is up to us to support these politicians.

    zippity doo dah


Aldo Leopold: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

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