Friday, February 14, 2014

Sport and politics

    From the lighting of the torch in the opening ceremonies until it is extinguished at the closing, watching the Winter Olympics is inspiring. The grace, the beauty, the strength and the dedication of these athletes to their sports make for wonderful stories and incredibly dramatic moments.
    We here in the Sun Valley area have been blessed to watch firsthand how hard these athletes train, and how much of their lives they give to their sport. Then, for a few minutes every four years, these men and woman get a chance to show the world what they can do. Some will win, some will be disappointed, but none will fail. All are winners, and we salute them.
    Would it not be great if politics could be as inspiring as sports? The difference is that one is a diversion, the other determines how children are educated, what opportunities are available, the placement, the upkeep of roads and bridges, who pays taxes and who does not, who serves in wars and who is a voice for peace.
    Political campaigns have the same dramatic moments as sport, but they are often buried under a deluge of grainy, black-and-white ads, charges and countercharges that disparage the character of opponents, and the clichés of media trying to fill time and space.
    It would be better if our leaders were not forced to beg for money in ways we would never expect of athletes. It’s not inspiring to see elections won by trickery. It isn’t a great victory to raise huge amounts of cash from people who want something in return.
    It would be great if politicians were rewarded because of their ability to explain policy positions and to act with wisdom. It would be great if discussions about possible consequences were not pushed to the back, replaced by endless speculation about who is in the lead and who is not.
    Few of us have the dedication or the skills of Olympic athletes. Few of us are willing to work that hard.
    Politicians often are much like sports figures. Campaigning is hard work. Candidates make great personal sacrifices to play on the fields of public service. They give up free time, personal relationships, and even sources of employment to submit themselves to the subjective judgment of the voters.
    Perhaps candidates should wear some kind of uniform emblazoned with flashy graphics and national colors so that the rest of us would give them the respect their work deserves.

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