The United States held England to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup opener Saturday, with a stunning blunder by England goalkeeper Robert Green costing his team victory.
An apparently harmless 25-yard left-foot shot from Clint Dempsey in the 40th minute went straight at Green but the ball bounced off his right glove and trickled over the line for an equalizer.
England captain Steven Gerrard had given England the lead in the fourth, charging into the area and shooting with the outside of his foot past Tim Howard for his 17th international goal.
England, pursuing its first World Cup title since 1966, created more chances but the Americans held firm under pressure with a string of saves from Howard.
Green’s error brought looks of dismay from English fans who were a majority in the sellout crowd of more than 38,000 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
“Unfortunately we’ve let a poor goal in and we couldn’t go on and get the winner,” Gerrard said. “The goal shocked us a bit… It took us a while to get over it.”
At the final whistle, American fans applauded and waved their flags as their team came over to greet them while the English supporters stood mostly in silence after their team filed off the field with heads bowed.
“Our first game is still about getting something, but when you go behind early, I thought the response was good,” United States coach Bob Bradley said. “I think after the goal, we started to put some plays together and built up confidence.”
Green’s slip recalled a similar mistake by former goalkeeper Scott Carson against Croatia which denied England a place at the 2008 European Championship.
Dempsey became only the second American to score in two World Cups. He also scored in the 2006 tournament.
“It was a difficult game,” Gerrard said. “I think the important thing in the first game is not to lose.”
Gerrard’s early strike helped settle the England team while the Americans struggled to find any rhythm.
The United States had little to show for its efforts before its goal. The best chances came from headers as playmaker Landon Donovan twice set up Jozy Altidore to head wide.
Wayne Rooney, regarded as England’s most threatening player, saw little of the ball and had little impact on the match.
Emile Heskey slammed into Howard in the 29th, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest with the toe of his boot as both went to meet a low cross from Aaron Lennon.
Heskey, making his first start since October, broke clear in the 52nd but shot straight at Howard, who came sprinting to the edge of the penalty area.
Howard was called into action again soon after as he tipped an effort from Frank Lampard over the bar, and at the other end Green deflected a shot from Altidore onto the crossbar in the 65th.
Rooney almost connected with a cross from Gerrard at the back post, and then set up substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips for a clear shot from the left which Howard stopped.
England coach Fabio Capello cranked up the pressure late in the match, bringing on Peter Crouch with 10 minutes remaining to supply Rooney with more possession, but there was no way through the American defense
More than 50 days after the explosion, fire and sinking of the BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon the oil is still flowing out of the ground, more that 5,000 feet below the sea. The finger pointing continues, as does the political posturing.
Some are using this accident as an excuse to end not just drilling in deep water, but to put an end to all offshore oil and natural gas exploration for good. Curiously, there seems to be no realization of some very basic facts:
1. The United States consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day and many who advocate ending offshore drilling also are opposed to drilling on the land.
2. Drilling in shallower water has much less risk and if there is an accident it’s much easier to turn the flow off.
3. The technology to drill in shallow water and on land has been tested over decades and has only improved.
4. If the United States does not drill for its own resources, other nations like Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela will drill for the same oil and natural gas from just outside our territorial waters without regard for safety or our environmental concerns.
5. As matter of national security we need to stop buying oil from nations that do not like us and/or support terrorism.
6. Thousands of Americans are employed by the oil industry and the industries that support it. At a time when millions are unemployed we can ill afford to put the oil industry out of business in the U.S. and send those jobs overseas.
Even the fisherman of Louisiana who have been hit hard by the consequences of this oil spill still want drilling and exploration to continue. They recognize that the economy of the Gulf and the entire nation depend on the oil industry. All that they ask is that the drilling is done in an environmentally responsible and safe manner.
There is blame enough to go around for the accident and its aftermath. The fact that the MMS apparently failed to do proper inspections and failed to ensure that an appropriate emergency action plan was in place seems to put blame on both the Bush and Obama administrations. BP has the lion’s share of the blame as it was their rig. But it’s important to note that it was environmentalists and their Democrat allies in Congress that pushed oil and natural gas exploration into the deep water where techonology is at its limits and the risk of disaster is far greater.
As for the failure to prevent the oil from reaching shore and to contain and clean up the spill, the blame is equally on BP and the Obama administration. Many companies have offered viable plans and technologies to contain and remove the oil from the water- they have been ignored. Several foreign nations that have experience and success with cleaning up large spills have offered help and they too have not been allowed to assist.
There are ships that could have been skimming the oil from the Gulf, almost from the beginning of this disaster, that have not been allowed to and still can’t do so until President Obama temporarily suspends the Jones Act, a law that prevents ships that are not built and crewed by Americans from operating in Amercian waters. This protectionist law which dates back to 1920 was temporarily suspended by President Bush after Hurricane Katrina, but Obama has not seen fit to do the same.
There are American companies that have boom that could have protected the Louisiana marsh lands that have not been allowed to provide their products because BP has not approved it. There are other companies that have simple but effective products like hay and synthetic polymers that could remove the oil from the surface of the Gulf that likewise have not been taken up on their offers to help. These products and solutions would eliminate the use of chemical dispersants that may harm the environment.
What is the motivation of either BP or the Obama administration not to take advantage of all this help? For BP, it would seem there is no good reason not to utilize whatever it can get its hands on. For the administration it would seem they are either incompetent or are following their mantra of “never let a good crisis go to waste”. It’s no secret that the far-left is unhappy with Obama for not putting an end to offshore oil drilling. If the administration lets this disaster go far enough they may feel they’ll have the political cover they need to cater to their base. But even this doesn’t make sense, as polls show that the public is dissatisfied with Obama’s handling of this crisis and blames him almost as much as BP.
We obviously need to find alternatives to oil, such as biofuels made from crops and plants that we don’t use as food for ourselves or our livestock- such as sawgrass. We also should be building nuclear powerplants and finding ways to utilize wind, solar, tidal and ocean current generation for electricity. But you can’t drive your car on these energy sources and like it or not, for the moment our economy is dependent on petroleum.
It’s time to get cut the red tape, clean up the water and the land affected by the spill and find a way to cap the gusher. Meanwhile, we have to move our oil exploration into shallower waters and on to the land in places like Alaska. We need the oil, we have the technology and to do otherwise would only hurt Americans and put our national security in jeopardy.
Immigration – Enforcing Immigration Laws To Protect Our Country And Our Economy
As a nation we need to come to a decision that will shape either or our future or our downfall. I do not make this statement lightly. This decision will affect every aspect of our country. The decision is simply this, “Are we a nation of laws, or not?” If we are willing to ignore this law, why bother enforcing any other law? The laws have already been written but we have allowed our elected leaders to ignore them because they see some sort of political advantage.
The first step in solving our illegal immigration issues is to secure our borders. Congress passed legislation over two years ago to construct a fence along our southern border. In typical bureaucratic fashion, they never saw it through to the end. The spineless politicians in Washington DC claim that building a fence several hundred miles long is a difficult task, much too difficult to complete overnight. Their argument is laughable at best. This country built railroads coast to coast, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center Towers, and a 26-mile bridge tunnel. The American spirit is unstoppable when bureaucratic roadblocks set up by career politicians do not hamper it. A difficult task is not impossible unless the task is abandoned altogether.
After securing our borders, we need to enforce the laws concerning employers who employ illegal aliens. The enforcement on employers will cause them to stop hiring illegal aliens. Without a means of income, many will return home or at least leave the country of their own volition. Those that have still refused to leave must then be sent home.
Brian intends to run an honest, transparent, and principled campaign. In the coming months, he looks forward to making the case with voters across Maryland that his approach to governance will provide the most opportunity to the most Marylanders.
Jobs are job one: Brian’s primary concern is the economy. Maryland’s high taxes, deficit spending, and anti-business environment have already destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs. Maryland is a great place to live, but we need to start making it a great place to do business. Every point in Maryland is 50 miles from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, DC, Delaware, or West Virginia. We must not take Maryland jobs for granted. Our tax policies must compete with those of our neighbors. If we don’t compete, Maryland jobs will continue to leave. And Maryland must rebuild its reputation with the business community. Maryland has the most talented labor pool in the nation. We deserve a Governor who will work with companies and encourage them to bring their operations here.
Leadership in Balancing the Budget
A top priority for Brian is balancing the budget without raising taxes. This will take leadership and it will take discipline. To that end, Brian will take a 25% pay cut for his first year in office, and ask his Lieutenant Governor, and all Senior Leadership to do the same. It is irresponsible for Brian to ask anyone in Maryland to do something he would not first do himself.
Brian is committed to ensuring every Marylander has access to safe, affordable healthcare. The first step is to grow Maryland’s economy, so every Marylander has more income. The second step is to address rising healthcare costs.
Our current model is like an “all you can eat” bonanza, where you never see the bill and have no incentive to spend less. This is foolish and unsustainable. Brian wants every Marylander to have more control over their healthcare, not less. When Brian lost his job at Constellation, he didn’t lose his car insurance, his life insurance, or his home insurance. So why did he and his family lose their health insurance? If healthcare is tied to employment, Marylanders feel less free.
To lower costs, every policy will be explored. Health Savings Accounts, wellness incentives, and tort reform are just the beginning to meaningful healthcare reform in Maryland. Costs can, and will, come down. Marylanders demand meaningful reform, and Brian is committed to implementing policies that provide it.
Brian is the son of an English teacher, and he and his siblings are products of Maryland’s public schools. Brian has an unwavering commitment to the education of every child in Maryland, especially those who live in lower income school districts and the urban areas of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. While our public schools are among the best in the nation, a great deal of work remains to be done. Every dollar the government spends must be reviewed and accounted for. Brian wants to review the quality of dollars spent, not just the quantity of dollars. Successful programs must be supported and fully funded, and wasteful programs must end. Our children deserve nothing less.
Brian is committed to protecting our shared green spaces, our mountains, our farmland, our coasts and wetlands, and our spectacular Chesapeake Bay. He has heard innovative proposals from entrepreneurs on how to address the Bay’s dead zones, where oxygen levels are too low to sustain life. He wants to work with local farmers on ways to address run-off levels, without making farming even more expensive. He wants to address transportation issues, to find scalable, affordable, environmentally sensitive long-term solutions. By working with the private sector to craft solutions to these problems, Maryland will solve its own problems, and develop an expertise from which other states can learn.
One easy way to address our transportation issues is to make Baltimore City safer and more affordable. Hundreds of thousands of people commute into and out of the city every day. Just imagine the economic impact, and the environmental impact, if they actually lived in Baltimore.
Like all of America, Maryland has an unhealthy addiction to foreign oil. We send billions of dollars to countries that don’t like us very much, and that’s a problem. We have been saying this for 30 years, but are more dependent today than ever.
Brian has spent the majority of his career in the energy business. He supports bringing energy production closer to home and exploring alternative sources of energy. Brian supports Constellation Energy’s proposed expansion of their award winning Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Facility. This would create thousands of jobs, grow our economy, and build our tax base. Brian is disappointed in the current administration’s delaying of the Calvert Cliffs project for political reasons. Our energy needs, just like our economic needs, should not be politicized.
2nd Amendment Issues
Brian has the same view on the 2nd Amendment as the founding fathers: the right to bear arms was preceded only by freedom of speech. Brian is committed to protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of Maryland residents.
Brian understands that immigration is what defines America (after all, his last name is Murphy). But becoming an American citizen is a process, and no one is above the law. Our Federal Government refuses to secure our borders, so all Americans are less safe. Illegal immigration is against the law, it cheapens American citizenship, and it makes police officers’ jobs more difficult. Maryland must enforce our laws, we must protect our citizens, and we must do all we can to ensure the safety of our law enforcement officers.
Brian is Pro-Life, and is committed to standing firm for the sanctity of life. Brian opposes embryonic stem cell research, and he supports legislation which gives pregnant Marylanders the best possible information about abortion. Along with his wife, Joy, Brian intends to establish a program called “Joy’s House”, in which pregnant girls and women can gain the support they need should they decide to carry their pregnancy to term. Joy’s Houses will be established across the state, and will be funded exclusively with private money.
A group of concerned citizens met in April 2009, for the first Tax Day TEA party in Salisbury, Maryland. Many more of us reunited with old friends. We reconnected and reaffirmed our belief in protecting the constitution and our liberties as US citizens. Concern for the pending finical ruin was the main focal point for most participants.
It was that day I met people like Joe Collins, who has become a dear friend and co-chair of Americans for Prosperity here. We started out with the first multi-county group which has since grown and morphed in to individual county chapters all across Maryland. I am proud of that. We took on nationalized health care. We took on City Hall. Some of our friends in the group even ran for office and won. It’s been a hell of a year. I’ve met some amazing people and have formed some great friendships, as the group together tried to figure out the best way to educate ourselves and become citizen lobbyists. We have all been volunteers because we deeply care about our country and knew intuitively that we could no longer rely on others to mind the store or make the decisions, that if we did not get involved we had no one to blame but ourselves. Not perfect. Not professionals, just regular folks out there with skin in the game.
It truly has not been easy and I understand why people don’t get into politics, as it’s not a pretty business. Many who speak out are bound to be marginalized with attempts to be intimidated for lascivious reasons. I’ve been stunned with the motives that are behind many people’s behavior.
I’ve really never been a kitchen kind of gal. So, I don’t think I’ll start now with the sitting down and shutting up and making anyone a sandwich routine.
I say this because apparently there is a lot of speculation if I’m going to run for some office or another and while I am flattered with all the attention, the truth is I have not made any decision to go from private citizen volunteer to candidate for public office. Yet what has been made very clear to me recently is how the politics of personal destruction works, or at least attempts to.
So that being said, I want to let you know that not only do I use the blog venue but I use normal social network sites to convey our message of citizen activists for free markets, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, and support of upholding the constitution.
Please join me on Face Book and Twitter under “Julie Brewington” I welcome everyone. And that means everyone even the Face Book stalker police. Have at it.
“I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right” — P.T. Barnum
Salisbury, Maryland and Wicomico County are looking at a very rough and personal election year coming up. Will some local blogs stay alive or destroy themselves as their bias comes out as they try and destroy others? Either way, this election year is extremely important. Stand behind those running for office that you agree with, for they will need support. It is always easier to sit back and attack rather than put you own butt on the line and do what is right, and what is needed. Who will stand up this year; who will fight for the people no matter the cost to themselves? We shall see, and soon.
During his first inaugural address in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously but inaccurately claimed that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Leaving aside the fact that 77 years later, many of Roosevelt’s socialist leanings serve as a roadmap for President Obama, the inescapable reality of 2010 is that the only thing we have to fear is political unaccountability, an unethical media, liberal judicial activists, and those among us who want and demand something for nothing.
If you are a citizen who still believes in traditional values and the need for a free, strong and secure America, then it’s well past the time to make your voice heard.
At the risk of being accused of inciting sedition by ultra-wealthy, far-left “journalist” Joe Klein, I would stress if not now, when? If not you, who?
As an aside to Klein, who apparently, as he runs around purposely twisting the words of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, by claiming they come “dangerously close to incitement to violence,” has never read the writings of well-known seditionists Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.
To that very point, Lincoln once said, “this country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”
Sacrilege. Had Lincoln uttered those very words today, Klein, the editorial board of The New York Times, and the inhabitants of the West Wing would have called for his imprisonment.
More than imprisonment, all but confirmed Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would have stated Lincoln’s belief deserved no First Amendment protection.
That assumption being based on the liberal Kagan’s own words who has chillingly said in the past, “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”
While Chief Justice Roberts called Kagan’s argument “startling and dangerous,” the mainstream media has done all in its power to keep this totalitarian declaration from the American people.
Beyond liberal judicial activism and the propagandists for the far-left in the media, our welfare, security, and very existence are being threatened by elected officials from both sides of the aisle who see the rapidly descending blade and purposefully ignore it as they suicidally focus on their own selfish needs.
Were it not for the fact they are about to take the rest of us with them, their extinction would be a welcome relief.
To ensure the demise of our once great nation, we are also being assaulted by an unimaginable and lethal U.S. debt combined with the out-of-control salaries and pensions of local, state, and federal employees and the unions who seek to protect and grow that money at any cost.
As one county employee in Maryland recently told me, “As long as I get mine, I honestly don’t care about the rest of the country.”
While we all now recognize that Los Angeles and California are the Athens and Greece of the United States, we need to understand that they are but the poster children for what is about to befall us.
On a recent trip to Miami, I was disturbed but not shocked to find out that while the median income for the hardworking citizens of that city is about $26,000, the median income of the city employees is about $76,000. Triple that of those who pay their salaries.
Worse, thanks to union threats and liberal leaders, almost 100 city workers in that all but bankrupt city “earned” over $200,000. Can you say “unsustainable?”
Roosevelt was wrong, as are all today who believe in something for nothing. It’s not fear we have to worry about.
It’s the minority among us who deliberately steal, lie, brainwash our children, and leave our borders and nation unprotected, that we have to not only shield ourselves from, but defeat before it’s too late.
That is the calling for the majority. Let us hope it does not fall on deaf or compromised ears.
RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Since the World Cup draw was staged in December and the United States was placed alongside England, forging one of the tournament’s tastiest matchups, every story line has been exhausted.
It’s the inventors of modern soccer facing the historically backwater upstart. It’s the teams’ first World Cup meeting since the Americans shocked England 60 years ago in Brazil. It’s a collection of U.S. players facing the country that employs many of them in its celebrated professional league, which has a strong following in America.
Six months in the making, the U.S. national team has come to this remote outpost at the base of the Magaliesberg mountains in northern South Africa to play arguably the most anticipated match in its history.
“It’s an unprecedented moment,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. “It’s one of those opportunities you don’t get very often. It’s a dream game.”
There have been more important U.S. games in recent years — against Brazil in the round of 16 in 1994 and Germany in the 2002 quarterfinal, and perhaps the Confederations Cup encounters with Spain and Brazil last year.
But the long wait between the draw in Cape Town and Saturday’s kickoff at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, combined with the deep cultural and political ties between the nations, has stoked the emotions and contributed to heightened awareness in the otherwise soccer-indifferent United States.
“For the last six months, all we have seen is U.S.-England,” midfielder Landon Donovan said. “So if you were a casual sports fan at home, you might think that this was the World Cup final: U.S. versus England.”
Far from it. But beating England would reverberate around the sporting world and help win over casual U.S. observers watching a rare network telecast of soccer.
U.S. players have proved their worth in the famed English Premier League for years, but “if we now can do it on the national team level against them on a big stage, it only takes the ball a little bit further,” Coach Bob Bradley said.
Added Donovan, the U.S. team’s career scoring leader: “Every time we have an opportunity to play, we have an opportunity to grow the sport, and we clearly understand that every four years, that is magnified and multiplied by a lot.”
Compared with past World Cup appearances, the United States does not face a particularly daunting schedule and is widely regarded as the second-best team in its group. It will play Slovenia on Friday and Algeria five days later.
Advancement would help purge memories of their winless performance at the 2006 tournament in Germany. “Everyone thinks we’re an underdog and England has all the pressure,” midfielder Clint Dempsey said. “We have pressure too. We’ve got to advance out of the group.”
The Americans enter the England match bursting with confidence but bracing for one of the world’s finest strikers, Wayne Rooney, and top-class midfielders Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
Bradley said his team’s “ability to keep track of [Rooney] and make it hard for him is a very, very important part of what we need to do in order to win.”
Uncertainty about the U.S. backline has added to the challenge. Will Oguchi Onyewu, the 6-foot-4 center back who started in the previous World Cup, receive the nod after not playing all 90 minutes in any of the three tuneups? If not, will Bradley shift assignments in order to fortify the middle?
Other mysteries linger. Will Maurice Edu or Ricardo Clark join Michael Bradley in central midfield, where the Americans will need to disrupt English possession?
Bradley did answer one big question: Forward Jozy Altidore, who suffered a mild ankle sprain last Wednesday, will start — a decision that seems likely to thrust speedster Robbie Findley alongside Altidore.
For the players, after a week of training camp at Princeton, two home friendlies and almost two weeks in South Africa, the England match couldn’t come quickly enough.
“We get tired of kicking each other, we get tired of training,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “We are together forever. We are just ready to get it on and see what we are made of. All the talk is over, or soon will be over. We are prepared. We know exactly what type of game we are going to be in — we are under no illusions. It couldn’t be a better challenge than to be the first game for us.”
U.S. note: Twice on Friday, the U.S. team bus had its trip interrupted because an elephant was in the road. For two days, the delegation has stayed at a lodge on the edge of Pilanesberg National Park, 23 miles from Rustenburg.
Former Cuban president slams Israeli raid on Gaza-bound flotilla, says Israel ‘would not hesitate to send 1.5 million Palestinians to crematoriums’
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro slammed Israel on Friday and compared its policies to those of Nazi Germany. He said Israel seems to have taken the swastika as its banner, and that it would “not hesitate” to send the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza to “crematoriums”.
The former communist leader published an article in local press in which he said, “The State of Israel’s hatred towards the Palestinians is such that it would not hesitate to send 1.5 million men, women and children to the crematoriums in which millions of Jews of all ages were killed.”
Israeli has recently come under harsh criticism from many countries around the world over its takeover of the Gaza-bound Marmara ship, in which nine activists were killed.
Castro added in his article that, “The swastika would seem to be the flag of Israel today.” He emphasized that his words were not “born of hatred”, and noted that his country assisted persecuted Jews during the Second World War.
He also addressed the new round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council against Iran, and said a confrontation with Israel is inevitable, and that even the UN and US “cannot alter the chain of events”.
He claimed that Iran is subject to Israeli threats, and will not give in to the “inequality” it has been dealt amid the decision to impose further sanctions on Tehran.
The outcome, he said, would have been different had a similar resolution been passed against Israel, since the United States would have vetoed the decision.
“But when Iran is accused of enriching uranium to 20%, the US immediately demands economic sanctions against Tehran,” he said.
It started with a basketball game in 1993. There were two fourth-grade classes in my son’s elementary school, and each fielded an eight-player team in an after-school sports league. Both teams were good. My son’s team went undefeated during the regular season. His best friend — we’ll call him Jay — played on the other team, which lost just one game. Eventually, in the post-season playoffs, the two teams were scheduled to face each other for the first time all season in the championship game.
A few days before the game, Jay’s father called me. He and the other parents of his son’s team were “very, very concerned.” Even alarmed. Apparently, as the championship game neared, the boys were doing a lot trash-talking at each other. Surely we could all agree that the real reason for the competition was to teach the boys cooperation and sportsmanship. Playing the game would mean one of the teams would lose, which would lead the winning team to “bragging rights in the schoolyard.” And that would not be healthy. It would undermine the real lessons to be learned about self-esteem and mutual respect.
He dwelled on these points for a while, finally landing heavily on the notion that this was a wonderful opportunity for us, as parents, to “frame the situation as a teaching moment.” Eventually, he got to the money point: He and the other parents of Jay’s team wanted to cancel the championship game. After all, we could all agree that both teams were already winners, right?
Initially, I was nonplussed. But I heard myself saying something like, “You’re way over-complicating this. The purpose of playing the game is to win it. And by the way, the winning team has earned bragging rights.”
As it happened, the two teams fell out along socioeconomic lines. Most of the parents from the other team were professors at the nearby state university, with a couple of doctors as well. Their coach was a well-published sociologist; Jay’s father taught psychology. Our coach was a private detective with a scar on his face, a reminder of a knife fight he had had in Mexico. One of our team’s parents was a real estate broker, another a chef; one sold insurance, one was a building inspector.
Fast forward two nights to a meeting at my house. Our living room was large enough to accommodate all 32 parents, 16 from each team. The coach of Jay’s team presented the same pitch I had heard from Jay’s father about our obligation as parents to frame the situation into a teaching moment that emphasized sportsmanship. One of our parents responded that sportsmanship is only possible if there’s a sport to begin with. One of theirs said something about helping the children to build healthy self-esteem. One of ours responded that being perceived as too chicken to play the game wasn’t likely to build a whole lot of self-esteem in anybody. One of theirs raised the issue of trophies, suggesting that if the game were played, then every player should receive the same trophy. One of ours said sure, trophies for all, as long as they were marked champion and runner-up and given to the right kids.
My favorite comment came from the real estate broker. He said that for him, after listening to all of the arguments pro and con, failing to play the game just seemed unnatural.
I thought I was a good liberal. Always voted Democrat. Felt a little smug around conservatives. My father served in World War II and loved our country, but he also was a liberal professor who opposed the Viet Nam war, organized teach-ins, and sponsored radical groups on various campuses. During my high school years, our apartment featured a glossy black wall with oversized posters of Leon Trotsky and Ho Chi Minh. But at that meeting, my liberal pedigree buckled permanently under the condescension from the parents of the other team. (The professors spoke to us as though we were being scolded in the principal’s office.) The attempt to manufacture individual self-esteem through group actions, to engineer an equality of outcome based on “fairness” rather than achievement, seemed like an effort to feminize young boys.
By the end of the meeting, it was clear what was really happening. This was a head-to-head confrontation between liberal and conservative values. In my newfound home in the conservative camp, I was not offended by the liberal arguments — that felt a little too like something a liberal might feel. I was just disgusted.
The vote split down party lines. Sixteen for playing, sixteen against. My vote to play was also a way to honor my father. Yes, he was a liberal — but an old-fashioned one. As center for the St. Paul Central football team, he too would have voted to play the game. And in the end, the game was played. We forced their hand by vowing to show up. Whatever they decided, we promised to be there ready to play. But in the interest of good will, we agreed to forgo trophies.
It was a good game. As I expected, my son’s team won going away. Afterwards we all went out for pizza. The parents spoke through frozen smiles. The kids had a great, noisy time. The boys did not feel a need for trophies, and there was a little trash-talking. The outcome did not seem to bother anybody except maybe some of the parents. Seventeen years later, my son and Jay are still friends. Through the years they played a lot of pickup games.
Strange as it sounds, it took a bunch of children and a basketball game to rouse me from a lifelong mushy dream of liberalism.