Tony Bennett, Evangelicalism, and University of Virginia Basketball

Bennett

Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia, was no evangelical.  But he was a champion of religious liberty and had a lot of support among Virginia evangelicals when he ran for president in 1800. So it is unclear what he would have thought about an evangelical running his school’s national championship basketball program.

UVA coach Tony Bennett has been outspoken about his evangelical faith.  His faith has been covered by the Billy Graham Evangelistic AssociationThe Daily Progress,  the Baptist Press, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Heavy.  (The Washington Post discussed how he handled racism during 2017 white nationalist invasion of Charlottesville, but says nothing about his Christian faith).

Following his team’s national championship victory on Monday night, Bennett told Jim Nantz that he had played a Christian song titled “Hills and Valleys” to get his team ready for the game.  This song must have had special meaning for Bennett.  Last March, Bennett’s UVA program was definitely in the “valley” after it became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed (UMBC). (It should be no surprise that Bennett received a text from former NFL coach and motivational speaker Tony Dungy after the loss to UMBC).

The lyrics of “Hills and Valleys” focus on God’s faithfulness during the joy and pain of life:

I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowestplace
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away

No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!

I’ve watched my dreams get broken

In you I hope again!
No matter what I know
Know I’m safe inside Your hand

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!

Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!

Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!

Frankly, it’s refreshing to see Bennett invoke a song that celebrates God’s faithfulness in the wins AND the losses.

The role that Bennett’s faith plays in his coaching is covered well in Jonathan Adams’s piece at Heavy. Here is a taste:

Virginia coach Tony Bennett is outspoken about his Christian faith and how it shapes his work with players. During the 2019 NCAA tournament, Bennett noted his faith helps him through stressful situations in games.

“You certainly feel things – things bother you, but where does peace and perspective come from? And I always tell our guys: It’s got to be something that is unconditional,” Bennett said, per Christian Headlines. “And I know I have that in the love of my family – unconditional acceptance and love. That’s huge. And I know I have that in my faith in Christ. That’s, for me, where I draw my strength from – my peace, my steadiness in the midst of things.”

Bennett committed to being a Christian while he was attending a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp when he was 14, per Decision magazine. The Virginia coach emphasizes five pillars to his players, and the tenets have become a staple of the Virginia program. Bennett drew upon Biblical principals to create the five pillars: humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness. Former Virginia player Joe Harris spoke with Decision magazine about the impact these pillars have had on his life beyond basketball.

“You can apply those pillars to the rest of your life, not just basketball,” Harris noted to Decision. “I always tell people that being at Virginia with coach Bennett helped me in a huge developmental standpoint as a basketball player, but that I developed even more as a person.”

Something tells me Jefferson would still be happy with the UVA win.

Out of the Zoo: “March Madness”

March Madness

I challenged my boyfriend Nolan to a March Madness bracket competition last month, with little success.

Annie Thorn is a first-year history major from Kalamazoo, Michigan and our intern here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  As part of her internship she will be writing a weekly column for us titled “Out of the Zoo.”  It will focus on life as a history major at a small liberal arts college. This week she writes about her the “March Madness” and her history of sports class.  Enjoy! –JF

To be completely honest, I don’t know a whole lot about sports. While I consider myself an athlete–I ran track and cross country in high school–I’m usually pretty clueless when it comes to following organized athletics. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy sports, and I’m usually more than willing to sit down and watch a game, but ask me which college team is ranked highest in the country, or which player is a shoe-in for rookie-of-the-year, there’s no way I would be able to provide you with an accurate answer.

My boyfriend Nolan, on the other hand, knows a lot more about sports than I do. For one, he’s played more than I have–track, football and power lifting now, but basketball, baseball and soccer in the past as well. He follows sports too, and on the couple occasions I’ve watched games with him I’m reminded of how little I truly know about athletics. Nolan knows all about which teams are good and which ones aren’t; he knows which players to keep an eye on and which ones to disregard.

All this being said, I should have known that challenging Nolan to a March Madness bracket competition was a fool’s errand from the start. Nonetheless, I downloaded the ESPN app, joined the group he made for the two of us, and with little informed strategy made my picks. For the fun of it we added a friendly wager into the equation–whoever’s bracket lost, we decided, would plan (and pay for) a fancy date for the other as soon as I came home for the summer. As the NCAA tournament comes to a close and my bracket continues to suffer more hits, my chances of winning the bet are looking slim to none, little to my surprise. Even so, the contest has provided an extra way for Nolan and I to have a little fun, and to keep connected while I’m away at school.

Our March Madness bet reminds me of an overarching theme I’ve been learning in my Sports, Race, and Politics class this semester; namely, that sports bring people together–and they have for a long time. Before people hosted extravagant Superbowl parties, sports brought people together. Before loyal fans could stream their favorite college team’s games on their phones, sports still brought people together. Even before ESPN invented a March Madness app that allowed ambitious girlfriends to challenge their long-distance boyfriends to ill-fated bracket wagers, sports brought people together.

Sports, throughout history, have bridged cultural, racial, and geographic barriers. Back in the 19th century, sports allowed immigrants to participate in American society right after stepping onto United States soil. After all, you don’t have to speak the same language as someone else to play a pickup game with them in the street. Sports brought unity among races in other ways as well–as African American athletes like Jessie Owens, Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali emerged in the public eye, blacks and whites alike ventured out to the track, baseball diamond, or boxing ring to witness sporting prowess at its finest. While segregation continued to apply within sports arenas even after teams themselves were integrated, games allowed members of both races to come together in the same space to watch the same game and cheer for the same team.

Ever since their arrival in American life, sports have provided a way for athletes and fans alike from all races, income levels, and geographic regions to share a common interest and pursue a common goal.

Mets Magic Was Born 50 Years Ago

Agee

Mets outfielder Tommie Agee made this spectacular catch in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series

Baseball season is here.  Today Jacob deGrom, the reigning National League Cy Young Award-winner, scattered five hits and struck-out twelve Washington Nationals in the 2-0 opening day victory.  Needless to say, I am happy he just signed a long-term contract extension. Robinson Cano homered in his first at-bat as a Met.

It is also worth noting that this season is the fiftieth anniversary of the New York Mets’ 1969 World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles.  Jay Schreiber has it covered at The New York Times.  Check out his multi-part special report, “The Year the Mets Jumped Over the Moon.”

Here is a taste of the first installment:

Just how had this happened? Yes, the Mets had excellent pitching, solid defense at key positions and some very good young players, but their lineup was hardly overwhelming. And yet, that didn’t matter in the regular season, when the Mets won a whopping 100 games and, in the process, beat out a Chicago Cubs team that played three future Hall of Famers every day.

Nor did it matter in the National League Championship Series, when the Mets swept an Atlanta Braves club led by Henry Aaron, one of the best players in the sport’s history. Or in the World Series, when the Mets went up against a mighty Orioles team anchored by the two Robinsons, Frank and Brooks. The Orioles, winners of 109 games in the regular season, seemed unbeatable until the Mets quickly proved otherwise.

Making this all the more remarkable is that the 1969 Mets did not represent the beginning of a dynasty. In the seasons that followed, the Mets won considerably fewer games and while they did make it back to the World Series in 1973, they did so almost by accident, having finished the regular season with a thoroughly mediocre 82-79 record.

But none of that diminishes what occurred in 1969. Here was a group of players who stumbled all over the place in 1962, with fans who embraced them almost in defiance. A team that slowly improved in the years that followed, but only slowly. And yet a team that proceeded to figure it all out for one intensely memorable season.

I was a preschooler when the Mets won in 1969, but I feel like I re-lived the season through WWOR-TV (Channel 9 in NYC) highlights during Met rain delays in the 1970s.

Sportswriter Compares the Denver Nuggets to Bruce Springsteen

I’m not sure what to make of this.  Writer Mike Olson seems happy that his team has such a “hungry heart.”  Here is a taste:

Love him or hate him, Bruce Springsteen is notorious for his dedication to his audiences, performing his guts out for hours on end through thousands of shows over the course of a 50-plus year career. The average Springsteen concert is longer than the average professional football game, and regularly goes far longer. His longest show ever was four hours and six minutes long, an overseas affair. His longest U.S. concert was in Philadelphia and clocked in at four hours and four minutes. Easy to do when you start out in your teens, right? Not so fast. Bruce knocked out those 244 minutes last October, less than a year shy of his 70th birthday.

The Boss? He’s pretty much a boss.

Consistency breeds a lot of goodness in any discipline, whether you’re a rocker, a croonera sushi chef, or a basketball player. Consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action. Coming out of the All-Star break, your Denver Nuggets had been one of the more surprisingly consistent teams in the league, with winning streaks of seven, six, five (x2), and four (x4) games throughout the season. Stacking that up, 39 of their 43 wins this season have come as a part of a streak that was four games or longer. They also have a few losing streaks sprinkled throughout the season, with four and three (x2) game slips marring one of their best campaigns to date.

Their newfound consistency has also been a massive part of why they’ve won as many games as they have, frequently wearing opponents down in workman-like fashion, enabling them to run away from teams at their best, and stay close enough to reel opponents back in at their worst. Even when their shots weren’t falling, the Nuggets typically stayed in the contest, having been blown out only three times over these first sixty four games.

Read the entire piece here.

Why NBC Dumped Bob Costas

Costas

It has to do with his outspoken criticism of the NFL in relation to the league’s concussion crisis.  Here is a taste of some great long-form sports journalism from Mark Fainaru-Wada at ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”:

By this point, Costas’ line at Maryland — This game destroys people’s brains — had gone viral, raising hackles in the NBC offices. The New York Daily News asked NBC for comment, and a spokesman responded, “Bob’s opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group” — prompting a story from Raissman under the headline, “NBC throws Bob Costas under the bus and in the process sends warning to rest of its talent.”

Sensing a budding problem with his employer, Costas says he decided to appear on CNN on Saturday morning to make it clear he wasn’t being critical of NBC. So, for the third time in a week, Costas was talking publicly about football and brain damage. He didn’t soften any of his comments — in fact, he reiterated them — but he did attempt to defend the network.

“I’ve been saying these things for the better part of a decade, and often on NBC, in front of the biggest audience not just in all of sports, but in all of television — ‘Sunday Night Football,'” Costas told host Michael Smerconish. “And I think NBC Sports deserves credit for this.”

Within an hour, Costas says he received a text from Flood, who oversees sports production for NBC.

“I think the words were, ‘You’ve crossed the line,'” says Costas, who says he no longer has the text.

“My thought was, ‘What line have I crossed?'”

Later, Costas says he pointed out that he had been saying these things about football for years — often on NBC. That didn’t matter; it seemed this was one time too many.

Costas was told he was off the Super Bowl LII broadcast.

“I recall the phrase, ‘It’s a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you’re not the right person to celebrate football,'” Costas says. “To which my response was not, ‘Oh please, please, change your mind.’ My response was, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.'”

Read the entire piece here.

Why Youth Sports is Broken

Both of my girls played sports in elementary school, middle school, and high school.  My older daughter played volleyball and basketball.  My younger daughter played basketball and soccer.  They played for their community, for their town, for regional club teams, and national club teams.  As of November 2018, I no longer have any children playing K-12 sports.

I have seen a lot over the years.  I coached my daughters in basketball when they were young.  I’ve watched men and women coach my kids.  And, perhaps most revealing, I’ve sat in the stands and on the sidelines with a lot of parents and listened to a lot of criticism of coaches, referees, and poorly paid park and recreation employees.  I’ve overheard the gossip and largely kept my mouth shut.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that youth sports is broken.  And it’s because of the ambition of the parents, not the kids.  One of these days I am going to write a long piece about what I have seen, but for now I will just let South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin handle it.  Martin doesn’t capture everything I might one day say about my experience with youth sports, but it is a start.

The Fea Girls on the Championship Road

I am always proud of my daughters, but I am especially excited for them this week.

Caroline, a high school senior, is playing on Tuesday night in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association (PIAA) state semifinal game in the hopes of advancing to the state championship game on Saturday.  I wrote a bit about the Mechanicsburg Wildcat’s girls soccer team here.  Last Saturday afternoon they advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling 2-1 double overtime victory over Archbishop Ryan High School in 30 degree weather and howling winds.

Caroline banquet

Caroline at the team banquet last week

GIrls soccer team

Caroline’s team has 11 seniors

Allyson, a junior right side hitter on the Calvin College women’s volleyball team, will compete this weekend in Pittsburgh for the NCAA Division 3 National Championship.  On Saturday night they won an epic 5-set match against Wittenberg University to advance to the round of 8.  I have no idea why the #1 ranked team in the country (Calvin) faced the #3 ranked team in the country (Wittenberg) in a regional final, but that’s what happened.   Either team could have won this game and both deserve to be in the Elite 8 this weekend in Pittsburgh.   It was a sweet win for Calvin.  Last season Wittenberg defeated Calvin on their home court in the national semifinals.

Sarah and Ally

Ally is #19

Ally and Dad

Playoff Season in the Fea Household!

uNDEFEATED

Some of you have been following the exploits of the Mechanicsburg Girls Soccer team.  They are currently 21-0 and ranked 16th in the nation according to USA Today.  Tonight Caroline and her team the play Manheim Central High School (Lancaster area) for the District 3 Championship at Hershey Park Stadium.  If you are interested, the game starts at 5:3pm.

Meanwhile, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Calvin College (26-1) will be trying to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 volleyball tournament.  Allyson is a starting right-side hitter on a team that has been ranked #1 in the nation for most of the season.  Calvin will secure an automatic bid by winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament this weekend.  And even if they lose, it is likely that they will receive an at-large bid.  (In 2016, they rode an at-large bid to the National Championship).

So what does this mean for the proud parents.? Joy just left for Grand Rapids.  She will be spending the weekend watching volleyball.  I am staying here in south central Pennsylvania and will be watching soccer in Hershey tonight.

We never expected that our November would be so busy or that we would have to split-up to watch our kids compete for championships.  (I played sports through college, but never came close to winning anything! 🙂 )

Stay tuned!

Episode 40: Sportianity

PodcastWhat do Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick have in common? Besides being NFL quarterbacks, they’re both famous kneelers. Yet their actions have been interpreted by sports fans and American Christians in very different ways. In today’s episode, we explore the deep historical connections between sports and Christianity. Host John Fea looks into what colonial New England’s Puritans thought about sports. They are joined by Messiah College historian Paul Putz (@p_emory), who discusses his work on the unique melding of sports and religion, “sportianity.”

Sports and the White House: Some Historical Context

Brooklyn Atlantic

The Brooklyn Atlantic, 1865 (Library of Congress)

On the day that the Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to visit the White House, Yoni Appelbaum of The Atlantic writes about the first time a championship sports team visited the White House.  It happened in the Johnson Administration–that’s Andrew Johnson.

Here is a taste of his piece:

Here’s the thing about the pilgrimages that championship sports teams make to the White House each year. It’s a tradition rooted in efforts to achieve national unity. Like the broader American project, at their best these visits promote an expansive vision of America, a diverse society finding commonality in shared symbols and common rituals.

But the first such visit was rooted in a very different vision of American society—uniting white Americans by excluding blacks from sports, from civic rituals, and from political equality. As President Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House on Monday, he loudly insisted that he still wished “to honor our great country” and “celebrate America.” His statement did not specify, though, which version of America he intended to celebrate.

In 1865, the United States was engaged in the project of Reconstruction, building a new society in the wake of the Civil War. It was also engaged in playing ball. Union soldiers brought home with them a passion for the American game, and fans flocked to ballfields to enjoy the pleasures of peacetime.

Read the rest here.

Are the Philadelphia Eagles Part of the 19%?

Baptism

Philadelphia sports fan are brutal.  They once booed Santa Claus.  As a Mets fan who has sat numerous times in the old Veterans Stadium to watch a Mets-Phillies game, I can testify to the ugliness.

But during the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl season, a narrative emerged that was strikingly different from the crudeness of the typical Philadelphia sports fan.  The Eagles were a team loaded with evangelical Christians.

Head coach Doug Pederson was the head football coach at Calvary Baptist Academy in Louisiana.  Quarterback Carson Wentz owns a Bible app and runs an evangelical foundation that serves the poor around the world.  Nick Foles, the hero of the Super Bowl, has appeared in Wentz’s devotional videos and is training to become a pastor.  So has Trey Burton, Zach Ertz, and Chris Maragos.  In October 2017, Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Paul Turner, and David Watford were baptized in a recovery pool in the Eagles practice facility.  Tight end Trey Burton performed the baptism.  Wide receiver Marcus Johnson was baptized in a hotel pool.  Third string quarterback Chase Daniels leads a couples’ Bible study that draws 20-25 people.  According to this piece at ESPN, during the season there is “Thursday night Bible study at the facility, scripture text chains, and late-night prayer sessions at the team hotel the night before each game.”  Some members of the team–including Wentz and Foles–call themselves the “Philadelphia Gospel Group.”

So it is certainly interesting that only ten of the Eagles, and perhaps less, were going to show-up today at the White House, leading Trump to cancel the event.  (Wentz and Foles said they would attend, but only if the Eagles voted to go as a team).  Are the Eagles part of the 19%?

The Poet Laureate of the 1969 Miracle Mets

Ed Charles

If you are a New York Mets fan, a general baseball fan, a poet (it’s National Poetry Month), or a student of the African-American experience you must read Gettysburg College historian Tim Shannon‘s recent Penn Live (Harrisburg Patriot-News) piece on Ed Charles.  (I should also add that Shannon will be our guest on Episode 36 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.  It drops tonight).

I was too young to see Ed Charles play third base for the Mets (1967-69), but I have fond memories watching him play in the “Miracle Mets” highlight footage that WWOR (Channel 9) used to show during Mets rain delays in the 1970s.

Tim Shannon is one of the few writers who can connect Ed Charles’s poetry to Phillis Wheatley and the Atlantic slave trade.

Here is a taste of his op-ed:

Ed Charles, the third baseman for the “Miracle Mets” team of 1969, died last month at the age of 84.

When the New York Times ran his obituary, it included several photos, including two shots of Charles on the field. One showed him diving for a ball with the agility that earned him his nickname, “The Glider.” 

Another showed him leaping with joy along with pitcher Jerry Koosman and catcher Jerry Grote after the Mets recorded the final out of the ’69 World Series.

These two shots of Charles in action on the diamond were accompanied by a very different one of him taken in the Shea Stadium locker room in 1967, not long after he had been traded to the Mets by the Kansas City A’s. 

Charles sits on stool by his locker, dressed in his uniform, with a pad of paper on his knee and a pen in his hand He looks away from the camera, his eyes raised above the horizon. The photographer, it would seem, has caught “The Glider” in a different kind of action. 

Rather than being in mid-air, he is in mid-thought. 

Charles was a locker room poet. 

Read the entire piece here.  Here is Charles the poet:

cHARLES pOET

 

Episode 35: Global Hockey

PodcastHost John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling return to a beloved subject, sports culture. While they have previously discussed baseball, the Olympics, and soccer, in this episode they turn their attention to global hockey. John discusses his short history as an aspiring goalie. They are joined by Bruce Berglund, who offers a peek into his new project on the spread and evolution of global hockey cultures.

Episode 33: The Power of Sport

uploads_2F1517801018608-g7jadvnppfm-49f71c59cada623d3fc8cd64f18ad36b_2Fwoi
As we wrap up the Winter Olympic season, host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling return to a favorite subject, the power of sport. In this episode, John discusses the social good to be found in the history of athletic competition. They are joined by Emmy-winner Amy Bass (@bassab1), the author of the new book One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together, which explores the power of a high school soccer team made up of predominately Somali refugees as they quest for a Maine state championship.

Studying Sports Movies

hoosiers

I have been enjoying Ben Railton‘s series on sports movies at his American Studies blog:

The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook

“The Longest Yard(s)”

“Hoosiers and Rudy”

Bad News Boys and Bears

Here is a taste of “Hoosiers and Rudy”:

It’d be hard to decide which of those inspired-by-a-true-story underdog victories is more unlikely and more inspiring. The Hickory high school team in Hoosiers (based loosely on Milan High’s 1954 championship season) is coached by two men as collectively flawed as Buttermaker in Bad News Bears—Gene Hackman’s Norman Dale has been dismissed from his prior job for losing his temper and striking a student; Dennis Hopper’s Shooter Flatch is an alcoholic town outcast—and has barely enough players to field a team, yet goes on to win the state championship against a vastly more deep and talented South Bend team. Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, whose life and events are portrayed relatively close to accurately by Sean Astin and company, is the undersized son of an Illinois factory worker who refuses to give up on his dream of playing football for Notre Dame, overcoming numerous challenges and obstacles and finally making his way onto the team and into the final game of the season, in which he sacks the quarterback on the final play and is carried off the field by his teammates. Having critiqued lovable loser films for their merely pyrrhic victories, it’d be hypocritical of me not to applaud films that depict underdog victories, and such stories are indeed undeniably appealing and affecting.

Yet in order to tell their stories in the way they want, these films also have to leave out a great deal, elisions that are exemplified by the way racial issues are not addressed in Hoosiers. For one thing, Hickory’s opponent in the championship game, South Bend, is intimidating in large part because it features a racially integrated team, which would have been a significant rarity in 1952 and which would seem to make them a team worth our support. And for another, as James Loewen has written in his groundbreaking book Sundown Towns (2005), southern Indiana in the early 1950s was a hotbed of overt and violent racism; to quote Loewen, “As one Indiana resident relates, ‘All southern Hoosiers laughed at the movie called Hoosiers because the movie depicts blacks playing basketball and sitting in the stands at games in Jasper. We all agreed no blacks were permitted until probably the ’60s and do not feel welcome today.’ A cheerleader for a predominantly white, but interracial Evansville high school, tells of having rocks thrown at their school bus as they sped out of Jasper after a basketball game in about 1975, more than 20 years after the events depicted so inaccurately in Hoosiers.” Such histories don’t necessarily contrast with those featured in these films—but it would be important to complement the films with fuller engagement with their perhaps less triumphant contexts.

If you are a sports fan or just enjoy sports movies, these posts are worth your time.

“We wouldn’t be in this mess if Donald Trump were a Cubs fan.”

9a741-cubs2bcat2bblack

Rich Cohen, the author of Chicago Cubs: The Story of a Curse, makes his case at The New York Times:

I don’t know how closely Mr. Trump even follows baseball, but if he does, he’s probably a Yankees fan — because that franchise, with its pinstripes and nonstop talk of winning, is Donald Trump all over. It’s good for fans but bad for humans, as it teaches the wrong lessons. What we want for a president is a person who grew up in the bleachers of Wrigley Field, learning humility and loss, the fleeting nature of glory.

Though the Cubs have clinched the National League Central and are poised to make another playoff run, our character, that old Cubs thing, has not gone away. We are what happened to us, and what happened to us was decades of losing. The team won the World Series in 1908 and did not win it again until last fall. Generations came of age in the 107 years in between, grew up, grew old and were still waiting when they died. The dry spell was said to result from a curse placed on the team by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, and we did feel cursed, but blessed too.

The wilderness formed our character, turned us into the sort of fans who make the best of a bad afternoon. Even now, with the championship so close behind us, I find myself wondering just how the wheels will come off this time. A Cubs fan will always be a kind of Buddhist. She knows how to enjoy a typical August afternoon, as for her there is hardly ever such a thing as October — only here and now.

Read the entire piece here.