Dear President Trump,
The other day a friend of ours told me that her son is playing club water polo at college. I knew he played throughout high school and really, really loves the sport so it was great to hear that he’s still at it. Apparently his team is doing incredibly well this year, so well in fact, that they are competing at nationals in Pittsburgh this weekend. My friend was so excited that I got to hear all about how they got there.
It goes back a couple of months when my friend’s son’s team somehow managed to win against the California team that had gone undefeated for 67 straight games stretching back over 8 years. This win catapulted the son’s team to a whole new level and paved the way for them to compete for either a big regional title or the state title (I didn’t track all the details very well) where they eventually faced that team again. As the story goes, my friend’s son’s assessment of this other team is that they are far more skilled and their bench much deeper than his own team, and that each individual player is much bigger and stronger.
It also turns out that they have anger issues.
Despite their apparent water polo prowess, they couldn’t control their rage during the re-match. They resorted to holding their opponents under water (a very big no-no) when shooting on goal, which means that those goals were not counted. This happened lots (and lots and lots), of times and in the end, my friend’s son’s team won and righteously advanced to nationals.
It’s a terrific under-dog-wins story and it’s also a terrific, and incredibly stark, example of how entitlement can turn dangerous. The 67-streak winners completely lost their cool and resorted to shitty, beyond-poor-sport tactics that could have turned tragic on a dime. I know from my friend that the referees were calling team-67 on their shit and not counting most of their goals, but I don’t know if they ever stopped play and attempted to get a handle on the violence.
Ever since she told me the story, I’ve been lining it up against what we are seeing you and team-Trump doing as you’re finally being held to account. In doing so, an interesting thing happened to my take on team-67 and the idea that it was just this one adversary that brought out such over-the-top bad behavior. What if team-67 was engaging in underhanded, nasty tactics all along and that’s how they got to be so dominant? I don’t think you all of the sudden, during the big game, figure out how to hold your opponents under water while you shoot. Rather, it seems far more likely that you’ve been slipping such moves in here and there all along, more or less out of the refs’ sightlines, that those “skills” have been honed, sharpened, and critically, reinforced, over time. In this narrative, those tactics worked well for a long time. The team was able to wrack up wins, which in turn helped it build into a powerhouse that guys flocked to (thus the deep, deep bench).
If I’ve got a decent bead on this narrative, it sure looks like team-67 ended up pushing their luck so hard that the refs couldn’t miss (or ignore) it, which ended up biting team-67 in their big, strong asses.
May we be safe from emotionally dysregulated bullies.
May we be happy to hold the line with integrity.
May we be healthy and strong even in the face of adversity.
May we not make peace with the team-67’s or team-Trumps of the world.