Streams

Brian Lehrer: A Noble Draw

Monday, July 15, 2002

Brian: All this whining by baseball fans over the all star game tie. Why not accept the fact that the best players from the american and national leagues played a highly entertaining game for 3 and a half hours, played two overtime innings, used up all their people, and played each other to an honorable draw? japanese baseball has ties. after 12 or 15 innings, depending on the league, they bow and go home. Does someone have to win and lose an all-star game, which doesn t even count? It was an honorable draw between one best and the other best.

And it s not just baseball where the spectators cheer for blood. Take the rudy donna divorce settlement. They negotiated mutually acceptable terms, like parties to a divorce usually do. But the daily news headline thursday was, of course, Guess Who Won? What s wrong with acknowledging that it was an honorable draw between two very proud, very rich, very angry, very vengeful - well, never mind, it was a draw.

There is even, dare I say it, bush versus gore. After the presidential election ended in a statistical dead heat, I thought instead of suing each other all the way to the supreme court, they could have shaken hands and tossed a coin. Or agreed to each be president for two years. But no. someone has to win, even if the real result is a tie.

But why?

as a kid, like a lot of kids, I used to watch professional wrestling. The script was always good guy wrestler versus bad guy wrestler. The whole tv audience was manipulated into rooting for the designated good guy, as if it was a morality play, not a pseudo sports event. But one night, they had two good guys wrestling each other. i don't remember their names. But the match ended in a draw. Unusual script. refreshing. As a morality play, it was uplifting. Both adversaries could be good guys, show off their skills, and in a battle of equals, no one had to win.

Now maybe this is going too far, but perhaps if honor wasn t so tied to victory, we could also save lives. The new york times reported last month that the war in afghanistan may actually have left al queada more of a threat to the united states than it was before, by scattering it to more nations. I m not yet convinced that s true, but if it is, did our government rush into a counterproductive war against a weak nation, in part because the american psyche needed a quick victory after sept. 11th? It s at least worth asking.

I ve long since stopped watching wrestling, but I suspect there was never another good guy tie. The ratings for that match were probably too low. Not enough passion to conquer to keep viewers involved, and god forbid, no one to hate. So don t look for a tv series based on the life of a worker in conflict resolution anytime soon. And while our national pastime is perfectly willing to keep us in suspense over whether there'll be a strike this summer and whether they'll allow the integrity of the game to be destroyed by steroids, don't worry. The commissioner has already promised us: no more ties in baseball.

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