The United States of America is a great country with a lot to be celebrated. Most of the time our greatness goes unnoticed and taken for granted by our own citizens. One thing that is never taken for granted is our praise of the success of a certain group of our citizens. The funny thing is that segment of our population is probably the least deserving of our praise. They are paid millions of dollars, live first class tangible lives, and are coddled every second of their lives. That certain group is professional athletes.
By contrast, look at our medical system. I will be the first to say that our medical system has flaws and many people take advantage of the money that is poured into it. But, you have to take the good with the bad. Nothing is perfect because everything involves humans and we are by nature imperfect. The true sign of the greatness of America's medical system is that people with the option of going anywhere in the world for medical care come here. Sure some people go to Thailand or Pakistan for surgeries or Mexico for prescription drugs but that is because its cheaper not better.
For those of us who long for free medical care and chastise this country for a lack of it, I ask you to walk into an emergency room and see if this country doesn't give you medical care-even if you don't have insurance-and will provide you the best medical care in the world. This country and it's hospitals absorb billions of dollars by providing medical care to people who don't or can’t afford to pay for it.
In America, poverty means you live in an apartment, have a car that is 20 years old and eat food that the government pays for. However, if you have running water, indoor plumbing, and have eaten today, in the world’s eyes you are not poor. If you live under these circumstances and think you are poor, just drive south into Mexico with that luxury good you own called a car and see what 95% of human beings think is poor and how 90% of human beings live everyday.
The simple truth is that in this country you have the opportunity to pursue anything your heart desires. In this country you have the option to never go hungry. These are very simple statements and ones that Americans take for granted every day. The fact that we can even take for granted these truths is an amazing sign of just how great this country has become.
With so much to be thankful for and so much to celebrate why do we continue to celebrate the monotonous. On September 26, 2009, University of Houston hosted Texas Tech in an NCAA football game. Houston was ranked #19 in the nation and Texas Tech was unranked. Houston pulled off a 29-28 victory over the underdog Red Raiders. That was a game Houston was supposed to win, but that didn't stop a crowd of 32,114 from storming the field after the victory.
I'm a big fan of excitement and the euphoria you feel after your team wins. It is, in part, why I enjoy sports. That win, while important, is in no way shape or form a "big" win. Storming the field used to be reserved for national championships or big upsets against rivals. Apparently, now it is acceptable for any home win. So this week, Alabama fans, when your team blows out Tennessee, feel free to tear down the goal post and jump around on the field, then go ahead and continue to damage other people’s property and light some cars on fire in the parking lot. If you can't celebrate other people doing their job then what can you?
This past Sunday Kansas City Chiefs head coach, Todd Haley, was showered with Gatorade by his players after a win against the Washington Redskins. Gatorade baths were once set aside for Super Bowl wins. Now, when your team gets the first win of the season, in week six, against a team that is 2-4, with its only two wins coming against teams that are winless, you get red water poured on your head.
How many times have you seen a running back get two yards get up and give the first down motion. Or when a wide receiver runs his route properly catches the football in the end zone and celebrates like he just cured polio. His demonstration of accomplishment puts Jonas Salk's to shame.
If the praise on the field, or staying at a five star hotel, flying first class, eating at any restaurant, picking up paychecks every week that total more than most people will make in their entire life, and basically never having to do anything you don't want to do ever again is not enough, then we have awards shows for these people in the off-season. I don't blame the athletes, we as sports fans, have made all this behavior possible.
Not that I'm surprised this behavior has surfaced. We are now rewarding sports achievements at every level for simply showing up. Little league baseball teams are receiving trophies for losing. Sports leagues of all sorts have adopted a tactic that they don't even bother keeping score. The phrase, "All that matters is that you tried" is now being spewed out of people’s mouths with no second thought or opposition.
Let’s dissect the thinking that all that matters is you tried. Basically you are saying that it doesn't matter what the outcome is, the only thing that matters is your intent. The fact is, we are teaching our kids a lie and crippling their growth. The only thing that matters in life are your results. Intent is nice but if it doesn't produce anything useful—its worthless. Your intent may be to be a good person, but if you are self-serving, treating your so called love ones poorly, and spend your entire life taking from everybody around you, your life has been worthless.
So the way I see it is you have two options. Option number one: the next time you hand in your proposal or perform a triple bypass or flip a burger you can jump up and down, perform a little dance and wait for those around you to pat your back. Option number two: you can keep your head down, pay your taxes, take care of your friends and family and go to sleep knowing that you are doing your job as a quality human being fortunate enough to live in a country that will continue to do the same.