Submitted by William Elder.
Wonder what Grantland Rice would have said about the recently ended Presidency of Donald J. Trump. I think I know, for I know of the behaviors of both men. Rice, before leaving to serve in World War One, entrusted all his assets— around $75,000— to a close friend to keep for him. Upon returning home from the war, he learned that his friend had lost it all on bad investments, then committed suicide. Rice blamed only himself for putting “that much temptation” in his friend’s hands. Then he made life-long contributions to his friend’s widow.
Grantland Rice was a journalist, if you don’t remember, what we would call a sportswriter. Trump calls his ilk, journalists, “enemies of the people.” Perhaps Rice is best known for writing, “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game!” I ask you to imagine the former President saying, even thinking, anything like that, expressing that deep conviction. Instead, we heard, in so very many words: Win, no matter how, any way you can, doing whatever you feel like— lie, cheat, steal! Then deny it all.
Rice also made famous the stars of the 1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. Trump, by contrast, was ceaseless in praising “me, first and foremost”, and making up the statistics to make it seem so. Rice wrote extensively about the justification for athletes to be able to earn a living— athletes like football star Red Grange and tennis star Babe Didrikson Zaharias. By contrast, if you take a knee during the national anthem, Trump wants you “out on your ass.” Rice also decried the influence of money on professional sports:
“Money to the left of them and money to the right
Money everywhere they turn from morning to the night
Only two things count at all from mountain to the sea
Part of it’s percentage, and the rest is guarantee”
The Secret Service, whose duty it is, by law, to guard against harm serving government officials and their families, are forced by this administration to hire a place to pee by those same protectees, at taxpayer expense. Have to protect the President? Well, pay the Mar-a-Lago day rate, or be damned.
Can there be a clearer contrast between the core values that motivated these two men, historical figures, or a clearer illustration of the pettiness of one over the other? Rice comes off as clean and decent, a talented and admirable figure; Trump comes off quite the opposite. Rice is of another earlier age, whose contribution, a pleasant one, is in memory. Trump lives on, with memory of his contribution a reek on the nation still, with potential harm from him and his influence a threat into the future.
Praise versus condemnation are fair contrasts in their behavior, as are creative versus destructive talents. Gentle accommodation and understanding judgment versus uncivil bombast and vindictiveness is another. All we Americans have to do in going forward is to choose which model we want to take to heart, want those around us— including our children— to embrace and emulate. Remember… “not that you won or lost, but how you played the game!”
Happy— it really is going to be a whole— “New Year!”
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.