Friday, February 11, 2005

Sports, Politics, and Fairness

Driving to work this morning, I found myself listening to Bill Bennett’s “Morning In America”, but today Bill was out sick and they had a guest host in. I tried looking up his name on Bennett’s site, but no luck, and I forget the name, so I’m simply call him “Twerp”, for reasons which should become clear in a moment.

This being Friday, Twerp decided to step away from politics and discuss the Super Bowl. Fine, but Twerp decided to deliver his opinion that Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid should be fired for losing the Super Bowl. He followed that up by wondering what Rush Limbaugh had to say about the Super Bowl.

First, the necessary personal rebuke to Twerp. You blithering idiot!!!

Now, on to why Twerp is wrong. I have been in a position to hire and fire people for most of the last twenty years. It’s not fun, on either end. You really want to find good people, just as they want to find a good job. And when it’s necessary to let someone go, you make sure you do it the right way, and for the right reason. Now, just what has Coach Reid done? The Eagles’ site says this:

“During his tenure, Reid, 46, has earned coach of the year honors twice, compiled the highest winning percentage (.629) in team history, captured three consecutive division titles and three trips to the NFC Championship game for the first time in franchise history, and registered the most playoff wins (5) in club history.
In 2003, the Eagles overcame a sluggish 0-2 start and a slew of injuries to post their second consecutive 12-win season. During that season, Reid registered his 50th career win (in his 81st game) to become the fastest coach in team history to reach that milestone. A year earlier, Reid was the overwhelming choice as the NFL's coach of the year as they thrived without the services of Donovan McNabb to still capture homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.
After a 5-11 mark in his first season, Reid led the 2000 Eagles to the greatest turnaround in franchise history, finishing 2nd in the NFC East at 11-5 and earning a trip to the NFC Divisional Playoffs. For his efforts, Reid was named the NFL's coach of the year by the Maxwell Football Club, The Sporting News, and Football Digest.“

Ahem. Note that this is the non-updated list, that doesn’t mention winning the Division this year, winning the Conference title, and coming within a single score of winning the Super Bowl. That’s the sort of performance that should begetting praise and bonus money, not threats to his employment. I guess we should be those Olympic Athletes who only win a Silver Medal are losers, to say nothing of Bronze Medalists, huh?

OK, so Twerp is a brain-dead jerk.. What’s this got to do with anything? It’s about ego. Politics is not a good location for education. I’ve noticed a lot of mocking, at the notion that Howard Dean, John Kerry, and John Edwards might have political futures. I’ve sensed a real hubris on the part of certain big-name Senators and Congressmen, who seem to think they’ve got everything all wrapped around their pinky. But just as the Eagles will retool and plan and get ready for next year, the Democrats will be back for 2006 and 2008 – Count on it. And underestimating the other guy? Well, you don’t want to give someone else any cause to name you ‘Twerp’, I’m sure.

On to Fairness. Now that I’ve shown some respect to the Democrats, it’s time to put a boot in their face. It amazes me how Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or John Kerry can act like they haven’t lost badly to the Republicans over the past five years. At first I though it was denial, then just putting up a game face, but now I really believe they have bought into the myth of the reborn Liberal. There’s almost something to that, by the way – Bill Clinton jumped into the Presidential race less than a year after President H.W. Bush’s approval rating was 93%, Jimmy Carter was an unknown 2 years before he was elected President, and so on. But the Republicans need to impose a hard lesson about Fairness on the Democrats, the same lesson they learned over a hard sixty-plus years: When you have the White House and both Houses of Congress, you tell the other side what is fair. The Republican Party owes nothing to the Democrats, and plenty to the people who gave them the power to do something to fix the mess in Washington. They also gave them responsibility for the work, and a reminder that we’ll be watching them.

Fair is also the subject of the role of bloggers. A Christian Science Monitor story discusses the court case between Apple Computers and bloggers who share information the company wants to keep private. The question has finally come up officially: Are bloggers journalists? If not, what are their rights? If yes, what are their responsibilities? A medium which is self-checking can move very quickly, but the potential for abuse, both by bloggers themselves and by those who may gain influence with them, must also be considered. Just as there are different levels of integrity standards at different newspapers and networks, so it’s natural for bloggers to have to sort this out for themselves. In the Blog Identity series, I discussed this matter briefly, and noted that bloggers who build alliances and networks will have to be careful to work out agreements that can stand up to a more careful scrutiny than they are used to seeing.

So, what’s fair? You tell me.


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