Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - DEN­NIS WY­ATT Ed­i­tor

It’s not what wins games or ef­fects po­lit­i­cal change

Trash talk­ing doesn’t win games. And about the only thing it in­spires is more trash talk. So why do we do it? Some ath­letes and even coaches tell you it us to throw off the other team to get them out of their game.

What wins games is not flap­ping your gums or turn­ing your mind on to auto pri­mal mode. It’s com­mit­ment. That means con­di­tion­ing, prac­tice, drilling, putting team above your­self, deal­ing with set­backs, learn­ing from your mis­takes, and con­trol­ling your urge to let anger fly when you are frus­trated or ticked off. Any­one who thinks taunt­ing is needed to win is delu­sional.

LaVar Ball ob­vi­ously raised three sons that hard work helped sharpen their tal­ents as bas­ket­ball play­ers — Lonzo, Li-Mello, and Li-An­gelo. Ball should be proud of his sons and their No. 1 sup­porter. But when he brags and drifts over the line to taunt­ing it doesn’t make his sons bet­ter play­ers. In­stead it be­lit­tles them when he feels he has to tear down greats like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley to brag about them or even mar­ket his sons. That said, what hap­pened to the rest of us? Why are we let­ting trash talk set the tone for ev­ery­day life and what does it ac­com­plish?

It would be a cop out to say Don­ald Trump took trash talk­ing to the high­est pin­na­cle in the land sim­ply be­cause it isn’t true. He’s taken it to the next level, no doubt about it. But trash talk­ing has been around in politics for cen­turies as it has been on play­ing fields. But at some point in the past 20 or so years in places like the NFL and politics it has be­come the main event. The buzz isn’t about win­ning as much as it is about who laid down the best in­sult or ex­changes from “in-your-face” cel­e­bra­tions to ver­bal al­ter­ca­tions.

Whether you are a fan of the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, rarely do they en­gage in trash talk. Ar­gu­ments about de­flated foot­balls aside, ex­plain why a team needs to trash talk against a team now go­ing for their sixth Super Bowl win un­der the lead­er­ship of an “old guy” quar­ter­back­ing them?

Rest as­sured Tom Brady gets mad like the rest of us and that he is pas­sion­ate about what he does. But he’s never slipped into the twi­light zone of be­liev­ing trash talk­ing wins games.

The ques­tion you have to ask your­self es­pe­cially if you trash talk is just how ef­fec­tive is it? Has trash talk­ing got this coun­try a rea­son­able im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy that most of us can buy into? Has taunt­ing via blogs, ca­ble news shows, dur­ing protests, and such brought about last­ing change or im­proved any­one’s life? I get that a lot of peo­ple eat it up. It’s no longer anec­do­tal thanks to so­cial media “likes” and web­site clicks that re­ward who can come up with the most out­landish in­sults or tirades

We eat up the tit­il­lat­ing and give our­selves high fives over cheap shots that lead­ers of “our” teams slam on our com­mon op­po­nent, but where does that get us?

It mat­ters be­cause we can’t have it both ways. We be­moan the fact noth­ing from our per­spec­tive gets done in Washington, D.C., yet we re­ward those on our team or side that en­gage in trash talk­ing or take the bait and slash back. In­stead of re­turn­ing peo­ple to of­fice who ac­tu­ally ac­com­plish things we sup­pos­edly want them to do, we es­sen­tially award put down artists to keep tak­ing the three-ring cir­cus to the next level.

Gov­ern­ing re­quires lis­ten­ing just as much as talk­ing. It can’t be a win­ner take all ap­proach or you will end up ei­ther in stale­mates or veer­ing to the left and then ca­reen­ing back to the right in­stead of stay­ing a steady course that gets you closer to your des­ti­na­tion.

Em­pires, na­tions, teams, and even fam­i­lies col­lapse when we take short cuts.

Eschew­ing com­pro­mise and talk­ing trash to se­cure an ob­jec­tive sim­ply weaves a can­cer­ous com­po­nent into the vic­tory mak­ing it fleet­ing at best. By do­ing it your way or the high­way the op­po­si­tion never re­ally buys in so all it does is take time to re­duce your per­ceived vic­tory to rub­ble. Pok­ing some­one con­stantly with ver­bal sticks doesn’t make them see the sup­posed err of their ways as much as it in­spires them to seek re­venge by find­ing an even big­ger stick and pok­ing back.

We are all to blame for what is go­ing on. We award trash talk­ing by mak­ing all the clicks pos­si­ble that ver­i­fies the 10 min­utes of fame the­ory. We en­gage in po­lit­i­cal dis­course not by stay­ing within ac­cepted lines of en­gage­ment by dis­cussing the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of is­sues and poli­cies but by veer­ing off into per­sonal in­sults and sweep­ing put downs.

It may ap­peal to our low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor or hu­man smug­ness but where does it get us?

We find our tal­ented sons on a short cut to per­ceived NBA great­ness scor­ing zilch in their de­but as Euro­pean bas­ket­ball play­ers. We find that the gov­ern­ment we keep slam­ming for not mov­ing closer to so­lu­tions on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy isn’t — sur­prise, sur­prise — mov­ing closer to so­lu­tions on im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

It’s been said we get the gov­ern­ment we de­serve.

Re­mem­ber that the next time that — de­pend­ing on your point of view — you trash talk Democrats, Repub­li­cans, conservatives, lib­er­als, mod­er­ates or who­ever hap­pens to hold views con­trary to yours or thinks dif­fer­ently than you do.

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