Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Wishes: Respect, Trust and Debate

Regular readers may know that I have a fondness for Michigan State athletic teams.  While I did not attend Michigan State, both parents worked there and we always had season tickets to football games. We were always fortunate to land a few hockey or basketball tickets too.  I continue to follow the various teams depending on the season.  I've been to many bowl games over the years since leaving Michigan, but this year I decided to stay home even though the team played in Orlando yesterday.

I don't know if you saw the game or are aware of the final result.  The Spartans lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 49-7.  It was a beat-down of epic proportions.  At one point in the second half, we went through three quarterbacks in about as many plays.  Suffice to say that the team was totally out-classed by the competition.  Nonetheless, there is a lot to be proud of this season as the Spartans won a co-Championship of the Big Ten and finished with an 11-2 record.  We have a lot to build on for next year.

The reason I bring this up here is the existence of a subplot within this match-up between Michigan State and Alabama in football.  The head coach of Alabama is Nick Saban.  Those of you that follow the Dolphins no doubt remember him as a recent unremarkable coach of that team.  From there he went to coach at Alabama, where he has had a great deal of success, even winning the National Championship game last year.  Prior to coaching for the Miami Dolphins, he was head coach at LSU where he won his first National Championship in 2003.  And prior to taking the head coaching job at LSU, he was head coach at Michigan State.

He left in 1999 after the team compiled a 9-2 regular season record.  The two losses were on the road to Wisconsin and Purdue.  Both were blow-outs like the one I witnessed yesterday.  Before the bowl game that year, he held up the University for more money and the University said "no."  This was his first real successful season and they just didn't have the confidence that he deserved more money before the end of his contract.  He left the job before the bowl game, again in Orlando that year.  They appointed Bobby Williams as Interim Coach before that game.  Michigan State ended up beating Florida in a back-and-forth game that came down to the last few minutes.

As it turns out, not only was Nick Saban on the sideline of the opposition yesterday, so was Bobby Williams.  Williams is the tight end and special teams coordinator for Alabama.  He coached Michigan State as its head coach from 2000-2002.  He was fired due to off-field player behavior issues as well as lack of results on the football field.  Many believe that this series of events transpired to leave the football program in the dust at Michigan State from which it is just now recovering.

So, all that being said, I was excited about the potential of this match-up to right some wrongs perpetrated by these guys on the opposing sidelines.  Well, guess what.  That didn't happen.  Did the results deepen my resentment for these men?  No, if anything I have gained a new found respect for them as good football coaches that have achieved a great deal in their careers.  They will likely continue to be successful.  I ask myself, why wallow in what could have been and dwell on what has happened in the past?  The future is the only thing we can create and the present is a result of our past efforts.

Perpetuating hatred is, as often is said, like taking poison wishing that the object of your hatred would be the one that dies.  If anything is a blueprint for self-defeating behavior, this is it.

So in the new year ahead of us in Lake Worth, I would encourage those on all sides of the political debate to remember that we are in this together.  Carrying on hatred for misdeeds of the past is counterproductive at best and harmful at worst.  We are talking about the welfare of an entire city here.  What I wish for is demonstration of a newfound respect for those that engage themselves in local politics - whether in a formal capacity, a previous capacity or simply following what is going on at the City Commission.

We have too much talent in this community to sideline, or ignore, people that you resent or do not trust.  Can we open communication to a point where it is okay to have a different opinion or another idea that is not promulgated by those that happen to hold the seats of power at the moment?  It is called debate.  This is not for the sake of arguing, but for the sake of exploring other ideas and approaches that may be worth following for the sake of the city's future.  These ideas and opinions should not be immediately discounted based upon whose mouth or fingers communicate these ideas.  Likewise, they shouldn't be roundly supported based upon who says them either.

Of course, your comments are welcomed here.