We are America’s potential

Look around you, take it in. Just look, please, just look. Peak out the window, step outside; marvel at whatever nature is presenting.

The golden splotched tree leaves fluttering in the breeze, cars passing by on the freeway, animals grazing a swatch of pastureland. Maybe it’s none of those. But you don’t need me to tell you what you’re seeing in that single moment.

Go for a walk. Stroll through the neighborhood. Call up your buddies to assemble a game of pick-up hoops. Make some popcorn, watch a movie. Uncork a drink of your desire, flip to your favorite TV channel.

Find the golf clubs, go play a round. Even if you’re a hacker, it’s better than a day at the office. Hate your job? Well, you are in control of your livelihood. Love your job? Me, too. Again, look around. Look at all of it.

Chances are you couldn’t do anything listed above as freely in another country. This is America. The land of the free, home of the brave, and a nation graced with endless opportunities.

Sure, 2016 can be labeled as unsettling. Someone else may call this year a different word, or two, than “unsettling” if they were writing this. Startling deaths, the resurfacing prejudice, police shootings, plethora of injustices, brash riots, and, to cap it off, the presidential election.

We all know Donald Trump is the President-elect. Many have different opinions on the result. But the reality is, we have our president for at least the next four years, like it or not.

Before you read on, I write this as an objective sports journalist whose forte is far from politics. Throughout the vile election cycle, I stepped out of my sports bubble to get a first taste of political warfare. All I can say is, it’s menacing.

Hillary Clinton, who deleted thousands and thousands of emails that were sent over a private server, allegedly rigged the primary election and triggered the Benghazi scandal (all according to WikiLeaks), represented the Democratic Party, all while being under FBI investigation.

Trump, on the other hand, mirrored bigotry and boasted about groping women’s genitals on a leaked video from 2005, all while representing the Republican Party.

It’s sickening, if you ask me. According to Business Insider, only 57 percent of eligible voters in the U.S. cast a vote, which means 43 percent of Americans failed to get to a voting booth on Tuesday.

Sports have been in my life for as long as I’ve known. For the past year, I’ve been hopped in and out of my sports bubble in attempt to engage in the first presidential election I can partake in.

ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt formally said it first on Wednesday night’s edition of SportsCenter. This hostile election has made me appreciate the sports bubble I live in every day. It’s a shield of toxicity from the outside world. You sit back and think, I’m going to school for a degree that validates the ability to analyze, debate and write about sports.

We, journalists, spend hours a day analyzing which team is going to score points than other. Outsiders, fans in particular, backlash with aggressive tweets on Twitter and hateful messages that flood our email inbox.

All of the turmoil over inane predictions and analysis subsides eventually because, well, it’s sports, and not politics. And I’m so thankful for that. Besides, I can tolerate the hoopla because, in the grand scheme of things, why does it matter? It’s just sports.

Even before opinionated turmoil subsides, you have to let out a good laugh because there’s someone out there who takes their time to craft a hateful message, criticizing your opinion about a futile sports prediction.

We spend hours a day writing articles nobody seems to read, yet still relish every sentence we craft because of the bubble that shields us from the outside world.

I’m a die-hard Baltimore Orioles, Washington Capitals, Redskins and Wizards fan. The last time one of my professional sports teams won a world championship was 1991. I was born in 1996. Of course, the life of a DMV fan is strenuous, but since it’s sports, there’s also a laughable side to it.

Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Yankees fans will taunt and sneer at guys like me for living in probably the worst sports region in America. I may get annoyed for a wee-minute, but how can you not let out just the slightest chuckle? It’s hilarious, in a way.

Sports also has the undeniable power to unify the world, even in times of despair and division. I mean, look at what happened last Wednesday, Nov. 2. 

With a whole nation behind them (to the exception of Cleveland), the Chicago Cubs vanquished a 108-year championship drought. That Friday, well over six million people – blacks, whites, democrats, republicans, Christians, atheists, Muslims, you name it – mobbed the streets of Chicago to celebrate a World Series parade over a century in the making.

Every newspaper across the world (except Cleveland) plastered triumphant headlines after the Cubs’ World Series phenomenon. 

The Quad-City Times plastered “FINALLY!” on its front page the next day. The Journal Star headlined “WON FOR THE AGES.” The Chicago Tribune read “At last!” The Chicago Sun-Times gloated “WORTH THE WAIT.” The State Journal Register said “A WIN FOR THE AGES.” 

Only sports can produce such headlines. Take Trump’s President-elect victory, and headline it “FINALLY!,” “WON FOR THE AGES,” “At last!,” “WORTH THE WAIT,” or “WIN FOR THE AGES,” and it doesn’t add up. It seems way too hyperbolic and out of context.

So, to conclude, I’ll step out of my sports bubble once more. Remember, we live in the finest country in the world. Trump doesn’t need to make America great again.

It’s already great. 

Not because I think everything is complete and dandy. Heck no. That’d be ignorant. Our country is great because of the potential we possess and what we can become. Our potential surpasses every other country.

Yes, the past hurts. But imagine what we can become. Yes, it’s extremely difficult to support someone who has different political beliefs than you, and, at times, has displayed bigotry. But I have good news – one person, even the president, doesn’t hold the key to life’s endeavors. You do.

It’s OK to be distraught, frustrated and worried. Even Jesus wept. If you’re going to protest, please do it peacefully. If you come across someone who has different beliefs than you, I challenge you to listen.

As a 20-year old Caucasian, I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority. I don’t know what it’s like to be treated differently because of skin color. I can feel the rippling oppression, but truly, can’t feel it to the fullest just because I do not walk in a minority’s shoes.

But I can say one thing. We are all one race, the human race. No president will ever define us or tell us differently.

Look around and ponder what this country may be. If the Cubs won the World Series after failing for over a century, then we can unify the divided.

Before you carry on with your day, take another look around. There’s endless opportunity out there, and a blank chapter that’s yet to be written.

[Editor’s Note: Images for this story are licensed under the Creative Commons 2.0 License. Copyright 2008 Jonathan Luirie.  Original image hosted on flickr.]

Kyle McFadden is the editor-in-chief of The Commuter and has his own weekly column called K-Fadd’s Cauldron. He also co-owns, manages and reports for Maryland Sports Access, where he covers many beats, including Maryland high school sports, college basketball and college football. He’s also a freelance sports journalist for The Baltimore Sun and The Frederick News-Post, covering colleges and high schools.

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