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Opening Arguments

The sporting life

The Indianapolis Star's Matthew Tully writes about a panel discussion on the lack of civility in politics. The basic idea, apparently, is that politicians should take a lesson from sports about how to play nice:

"What matters is whether the country respects the process," Leach said. "If you respect the process, you pull together."

And, perhaps, you're even willing to accept laws you dislike and politicians with whom you disagree. To make his case for civility, Leach told of a tennis match in which the competitors, after a long rally, dropped their rackets and applauded each other. It was a sign of respect -- for each other and for the sport that employs them.

"Can American politics start to reflect that ethic?" he asked.

It could. But probably only if the spectators -- the voters, that is -- demand and applaud it.

I'm not sure the analogy works, for a lot of reasons. Just a couple: There's a lot more at stake in politics than in a tennis match or a football game or any other sporting contest; accepting laws I dislike (especially ones I think are aginst my interests -- takes a little more tolerance than accepting a bad call from a line judge. And voters aren't just "spectators" -- we're supposed to be the shareholders in this little enterprise called the American republic; we're a little more involved in the process and invested in the outcome than sports fans who leave the stadium disappointed that their team didn