When Teams are Bad

Team D vs Team R

The prevailing wisdom is that teams are good. We put children on sports teams, make students do group projects, and organize project teams at the office. Humans learned long ago that a group, working in a coordinated fashion, operates much more effectively than an individual. You can see examples of it everywhere. As a result, we spend a great deal of time learning and teaching the social skills important to teamwork. But, what if, in addition to the many benefits they provide, teams encouraged some very bad and self-destructive behavior?

They do.

There is a recently resolved ‘scandal’ in the world of NFL football. The accusation was that Tom Brady, superstar quarterback of the New England Patriots, purposely had footballs deflated somewhere between 0.1 and 0.8 psi below the limit allowed by regulations. He will serve a four game suspension for this violation at the beginning of the season. Almost two years and millions of dollars were spent on gathering evidence and making arguments in the trial surrounding this accusation. But none of the evidence or arguments mattered to the public. The opinion any individual had was almost entirely determined by what ‘team’ they were on. Was the person a Patriots fan? Tom Brady was obviously innocent and the subject of an NFL witch hunt brought on by teams jealous that the Pats keep winning. Was the person a Colts, Ravens, or Jets fan? Tom Brady was obviously guilty, as was the rest of the Cheatriots organization and there were probably a multitude of other things the team was still getting away with and needed to be investigated for. Was the person not a fan of football? The story is not worthy of attention, but why do millionaires with everything still feel the need to cheat? Something about privilege and sports and how firemen and teachers should earn the salary that athletes earn.

The above image was definitely created by a member of the pro-Patriots team.

It didn’t matter what the actual story or evidence was, what mattered was what team the person giving their opinion was on: pro-Patriots, anti-Patriots, or anti-sports.

But sports really don’t have much of an impact on our lives. They’re not really all that important in the grand scheme of things. Politics are. Not that anyone wants to acknowledge or admit it, but politics are ridiculously important. Our elected officials have a strong influence on the character of our society as a whole. Their election matters. In any election cycle, millions of dollars are spent both in promoting and destroying candidates. Scandals occur. Research on candidate proposals is done to determine if they have legitimacy and have a chance to accomplish what the candidate claims they will accomplish. But none of that matters. What matters is what ‘team’ people are on.

Are you Team Democrat? Well, obviously, everything the Republican candidate says and does must be taken with the understanding that they are nothing but an evil profit-mongering pig just acting in the interest of the big businesses that bought the candidate off. Team Democrat is never going to vote for a Republican candidate, even if that candidate was the reincarnation of FDR.

Our ‘teams’ even have mascots in the form of the donkey and the elephant

How about Team Republican? Obviously, every Democrat candidate is an effeminate marxist who wants to live under the rule of a totalitarian welfare state. Team Republican would not vote for anyone with a D listed after their name, even if it was Ronald Reagan.

So political campaigns have devolved. They know you don’t want to hear the research. They know you don’t need to hear a real plan to move the country forward. What you want is an inspiring statement of demagoguery that you can hurl as an insult to anyone on the other team. You want an emotional confirmation that you’re right and the other person is wrong. You want to be reinforced in your beliefs, even if they are prejudiced and harmful to society. You want a bad guy. You want a good guy. You want a team to cheer for and a team to fight against. And so your candidate knows that they can get away with almost any scandal, because you’re going to vote for them anyway. And the opposing candidate does not worry about insulting you, because you’re not going to vote for them anyway. And then we have an election season all about emotional platitudes and baseless, but morally-resonating, accusations.

Get ready for TONS of ridiculous headlines

The current Presidential campaign features three legitimate, and four fifty-state, candidates. But we hear only about the two candidates that our media has carefully crafted teams around: the Democrats and the Republicans. And what do the candidates do? They spit insults at each other. There is no talking about issues or solutions in any context other than to drum up emotional responses either for a candidate or against their opponent. No real plans are proposed. No real research is done. No actual possibilities are considered. In fact, because both the R and D parties have put two of the most unpopular candidates of all time at the head of their teams, the majority of exhortations we hear from persons pushing one candidate or another is “In order to prevent { Hillary / Trump } from winning, you must vote for { Trump / Hillary } even if you don’t like { him / her }”. What? We’re voting for one team just to prevent the other team from winning? Seriously?

How about we acknowledge that sometimes teams can lead to self-destructive behavior? Especially in the case of politics. How about we resolve to not be part of a team, no matter how much we’ve been pre-conditioned for it? How about we give consideration to all the candidates still in the race instead of just the two the media tells us we’re allowed to consider? How about we vote according to our beliefs about which candidate’s plans will make a better society for us all? Admittedly, that’d take something called “effort”, which appears to be a word disappearing from our vocabulary as we sink into the aimless wandering of an overly prosperous, declining civilization, but it’d be worthwhile.

I’d like to challenge all of the ( approximately 50, but hey, it’s better than 2? ) people who read this post to go to isidewith.com, even if you’ve done it before. Carefully and thoughtfully answer all of the questions posed in the questionnaire given on that site. And then, when you see your results, vote for the candidate that you most agreed with — even if they aren’t your team’s candidate. Even if they are from a “third party”. Even if you’re a D and they’re an R, or you’re an R and they’re a D. Vote your conscience. Vote your morality. Vote your belief system. Don’t vote your team.