CSotD: Knowing How the Game is Played

This silly cartoon by Alistair Findlay may seem an odd kickoff to a post about the upcoming elections, particularly since he’s South African, but stick with me.

First of all, it might not be all that silly. Not that I would expect NASCAR or Formula One to kick out their drivers, but a separate race among driverless cars could certainly happen.

After all, events like the Indianapolis 500 were first mounted to show the reliability of automobiles, in an era when you needed to be your own mechanic (and tire-repairer) to take a car ride outside of town.

So why wouldn’t Elon Musk or someone put up the money to stage a competition among driverless cars?

At which point, the good ol’ boy NASCAR fans would turn up their noses, because a lot of their fandom involves having spent most of their teen years with their heads under the hoods of some jalopy in their own driveway and then peeling down back roads hoping the cops weren’t around.

But look at the number of Madden fans who couldn’t tell a jock strap from a kicking tee. For them, it’s not a game that simulates playing football but, rather, a game that simulates watching football or, perhaps, an alternative to sports entirely.

And there are highly popular, highly profitable websites in which vast numbers of people watch other people play video games, including but hardly limited to Madden.

So why wouldn’t they watch robotic cars race around a track?

And what in the wide, wide world of sports does this have to do with the upcoming elections?


Well, another of them danged furriners, Michael de Adder, has posted this commentary on Canada’s legalisation of recreational marijuana, and it got a laugh not just for being the only cartoon on the topic that didn’t substitute a cannabis leaf for the maple leaf on the flag, but for not specifying a lot of specific issues Uncle Sam is facing.

Trump, and Trumpism, are the mess we face, and the specifics don’t matter because, well, because the specifics don’t matter, which brings us back to people watching a sport they’ve never played.

The other day, I referenced this Atlantic article about how Trump loyalists are more about an almost religious belief in an image of America than about the truth or falsity of what Dear Leader tells them.

I would add this: It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that they don’t know how it works.

Wyclef Jean once spoke on Fresh Air about the demise of music in schools, and noted that there was a time when a lot of kids, at some point, learned to play an instrument.

And now they don’t, and he said you could see the difference in that they were no longer moved by music played on instruments but, rather, by record-scratching and other technically produced DJ and rapper effects, because that was within their experience.

Well, we’re now dealing with an electorate that has no experience of civic engagement.

I’m not trying to be condescending about this, and I have a lot of blue-collar friends with minimal education who are deeply involved in their communities, not just attending meetings but serving on boards or in local government.

But they’re not Trump supporters.

A substantial portion of the Deplorables — the core group of Trump loyalists — have come from a segment of society with no civil engagement. They don’t attend meetings, they don’t read newspapers or news magazines, they don’t flip around the TV to catch alternative viewpoints.

So when you talk about kids who can’t play an instrument and people who play Madden but have never played a sport and people who don’t know a socket wrench from a spark plug, you can add people who vote but have absolutely no practical connection to draw upon.

Which brings us back to Alistair Findlay’s cartoon about auto racing without drivers, the difference being that fans who can’t drive would stop attending traditional races and would go, instead, to the robotic or virtual events.

Our political “stadium” remains full to the brim, but an increasing number of the fans have no idea how the game is played or what they’re cheering about.

The question for democracy being, how do you reach them? How do you engage people who, honestly, don’t understand the game?

Which brings us to our

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Jeff Danziger)

(Tom Toles)

I like both cartoons a lot, but I’m a member of the choir and preaching to me isn’t gonna move the needle two weeks from Tuesday.

If you could get to the Deplorables and point out to them that the Republicans are cutting their health care and Social Security, it might make a difference.

But first you would have to get to them.

Second, you would have to explain the whole thing, because they don’t understand the deficit and they don’t understand funding for the health system or for Social Security.

As for Mitch McConnell’s intentions, without a strong understanding of how the sport is played, you’re not going to understand a specific, complex game plan.

And that’s true whether it’s their plan or our plan, whether it’s a brilliant plan, a foolish plan or an evil plan.


(insert unintentional but incredibly relevant video explanation)


Here’s the challenge:

Saturday, Trump told reporters in Nevada that Congress is working on a “very major” middleclass tax cut that will be announced before the midterms.

Above is the Congressional Calendar. Yellow shows both houses in session, blue means only the Senate.

Anyone who knows how the sport is played can plainly see that there clearly, obviously can be no tax cut between now and November 6.

But, as the old joke goes, that’s not good enough.

We need a majority.

2 thoughts on “CSotD: Knowing How the Game is Played

  1. A race between autonomous vehicles can be exciting. And it’s where most of the current technology came from.
    The DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004 and 2005 was for unmanned vehicles on a cross country course.
    And then in 2007 they did the Urban Challenge which had to deal with actual TRAFFIC.

  2. Not surprising. As I said, the sport began as a demonstration of practicality.

    You could build a figure-8 track with some interesting hazards — almost a steeplechase type thing — and turn them loose on it. I’d watch it.

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