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Derek Johnson

How about a game?

The last week was yet another drama riddled period of violence, politics and sports.

Fugitive ex-policeman Michael Dorner was torched; the president gave his State of the Union address; Marco Rubio drank water (R-Fla.), and post-season ladies basketball continued here in the region.

Usually I am one to make time for big political speeches. I feel like it is my duty as a citizen to listen when the president of the free world speaks. This week I was glad to be watching St. Bede on the court against Byron at Somonauk.

Sports are the perfect getaway. They are also incredibly important to all societies. I have friends that, even in their 30s, dismiss the impact that sports have on our lives. Often it is because they grew a disdain for jock-centered tribal high school culture as teenagers or found that hating football was a good way to differentiate themselves. There is certainly room and reason for protest there. But, sports are sine qua non to life. Play is an important part of learning at all ages.

Nothing made this more apparent for me this week as the president gave his annual address. I couldn’t help but think what if? What if these guys in Washington played a pick-up game of basketball once a week? Or, even a round of golf. We all know that getting to know people is often about having different experiences with one another. It’s not just about being able to get through the day at the office. Most normal people have a desire to genuinely get along with folks they interact with regularly.

Apparently, they don’t get this in D.C. They used to, though. There was a time when Republicans and Democrats had annual Christmas parties together and went to each other’s homes for dinner. Now, they live on opposite sides of the Potomac and shop at different grocery stores.

So, I thought, maybe we should make this bunch line down or post up against one another every now and then. If John Boehner and President Obama spent Sundays golfing together, wouldn’t they be more likely to pass a bill? Wouldn’t it be harder for them to hate each other if they had some respect for one another earned on the court instead of the court of public opinion alone? What if they played doubles together against the lobbyists in tennis? Would they not then have some level of palpable mutual respect?

One thing is for sure; neither has ever had enough respect for an opponent to go for anything other than annihilation. Anyone who has ever had a perennial opponent knows that is not a realistic option. Michigan cannot take Ohio State off of the schedule. They have to get along in many respects as fellow Big 10 members. More importantly, they have to play one another in every sport, every year. Because of that reality the Buckeye-Wolverine rivalry begat respect.

Congressman, senators and presidents get together in one place to do one thing: Politic. No wonder they don’t treat each other like fellow people. Smoking has long been banned in the capitol, so that room is no longer there. Maybe it should have been replaced with a pool table and a gaming console, so these people could learn how to work together by playing together.

Shaw Media correspondent Derek Johnson of Dover can be reached at derekeus@hotmail.com.

How about a game? shaw-push-component-1