Posted by: johnhourihan | August 11, 2013

The politics of a penalty kick

There was a confident young man on a high school soccer team I coached. He couldn’t watch a penalty kick being taken, so instead, he knelt down on the field and faced the other way. He said he could tell from the reaction of the crowd what had happened.Penalty-Kick
He taught me something.
It wasn’t enough at the time to know what has happened. We had to know what people thought of it. That, in turn, would tell us what would happen next.
In effect, this extraordinary young man taught me that he could find out more, from not watching, than the rest of us who were looking directly at what was happening.
Back then a goal meant one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group, but there were pretty much two groups.
This has changed.
For years after that, when I was writing about something or reporting on something, I would watch what happened and then close my eyes and hear the reaction of the crowd. I would go out and ask 20 people what had happened. They all had a little different interpretation of what they saw or heard, but pretty much what had happened was good for them or bad for them or didn‘t affect them at all.
Now, when I listen to the talking heads on CNN, MSNBC or FOX News I can tell that the reporter is telling us what was seen by one person, as interpreted though the senses of one person, and not always the one who is talking.
Then those listening have several opposed reactions when only one thing is important, is it good for us personally or bad for us personally?
But the reactions have nothing to do any more with what is good for us or bad for us. I know  people who would be helped by Obamacare and hurt by GOP goals of cutting stipends for the unemployed, who hate Obama and say that anything does is evil. I know law-abiding people who believe keeping guns out of the hands of criminals will affect them in some adverse way. I know people who depend on Social Security and Medicare to live who call the president a socialist, as if he instituted the socialist programs keeping them alive, as if the programs are bad, and as if they want those programs stopped.
That is why no matter what the president of the United States does or says, he is right, wrong, good, evil, intelligent, stupid, good, bad, skillful, inept, foreign, domestic all at the same time based on something other than intelligence.
No one cares any more if what happens is good for us or bad for us; It is all filtered through eyes that are jaded by politics, racism, cynicism, ignorance, intolerance or a thousand other distortions of existence.
I understand more about the dilemma the president faces by listening to the reactions than I do by watching the goal.
Thanks Mike.



  1. Oh yes. This is a very good one! How true. How sad.

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