Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sports Yield To History

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

Running household joke: I suffer from SAD – Sports Affective Disorder.  If the Terps, Caps, ‘Skins, Bullards or Nationals win, I’m happy.  If they win big – think Caps hoisting the Stanley Cup – I am manic.  If they lose, I’m grumpy…lose in disastrous fashion and I’m best avoided by all of humanity.

It’s unfair.  There may have been a shred of truth to it once upon a time.  But I’m good now.  The euphoria associated with winning big is still there, but I don’t psychologically crater with losses.  I mean, there’s been so many defeats over the last two decades, adaptation was inevitable.  Beer helps too…and whiskey when things get a little desperate.  That’s a statement, not a suggestion…necessarily.  If you take it for the latter, remember to be of law abiding age and consume responsibly. 

Cured of SAD I am not.  D.C. sports still test my resolve, like when the football team starts 5-2 and six games later is 6-7 and wasting away into dust like a victim of Thanos’s Infinity War.  Ah, but it looks like the ultra-villain spared my life.  Thanks, big guy.  Now I get to enjoy three more weeks of The Mark Sanchez/Josh Johnson Experience.  Joy to the (bleeping) world.  “The most wonderful time of year”?  My derriere… 

I almost started feeling sorry for myself.  Despite the Caps’ Stanley Cup respite, it still takes little evidence for D.C. sports to regress into martyrdom.  And so, while contemplating a football season gone awry, the starting quarterback and backup quarterback spending a night in the hospital in adjacent rooms after breaking their legs (true story), I was almost there.  Bah humbug.  Full-on Mr. Scrooge.  I was ready to hang with The Grinch and plot a new attack on Whoville.

Then history intervened. 

Whatever your opinion of the state of our nation, every American should have seen December 7 on the calendar last week and felt very, very fortunate and tremendous gratitude.  On that day, 77 years and a few generations ago, Americans learned of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.  With Europe already consumed by war and the Japanese advances in the Pacific, the attack almost certainly meant America’s formal entry into World War II.  A day later, President Franklin Roosevelt confirmed as much in his famous speech regarding that infamous day.  It is humbling to consider the subsequent sacrifices that ensured the freedoms we enjoy today.

Speaking of December 8, FDR’s speech shares the day with another significant moment in history: the murder of John Lennon.  Connecting the two, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  Lennon, particularly after his break from The Beatles, discussed, wrote and sang about ideas.  Perhaps his greatest idea for humans was expressed in his iconic song “Imagine”.  In Lennon’s musically simple and lyrically powerful masterpiece, he challenges us to contemplate a world where there is no heaven or hell, no countries, nothing to die for, no religion, no greed or hunger and where all people are living in peace.  A powerful idea indeed.

When contemplated together, and in today’s very divisive times, the post-Pearl Harbor, World War II era and Lennon’s “Imagine” beg us to acknowledge the power of togetherness and our shared cause.  The immense challenge of World War II, and the consequences of defeat, offered little tolerance for petty differences.  Similarly, Lennon’s “Imagine” demands confrontation with our too common inclination to obsess over differences – in race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion and anything else the mind can manufacture – rather than seeing one another, first and foremost, as fellow humans with the shared goals of love, peace and happiness.  Or, as more eloquently stated by former President Bill Clinton, “The world is awash in divisions rooted in the human compulsion to believe our differences are more important than our common humanity.” 

History: It certainly has a way of making a putrid football team completely insignificant…and it arrived just in time to reset, rejuvenate and refocus a troubled mind for the holidays.  Hopefully Mr. Grinch won’t be too disappointed when I decline his invitation to visit Mount Crumpit. 

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