Noted columnist EJ Dionne weighs in on sports and politics and faith and Giuliani. It must be noted here that Mr. Dionne is a passionate member of the Red Sox Nation, deliriously happy at a second World Series title in just the past few years.
Many non-sports people think team loyalties are irrational, trivial and a waste of time. Loyalty itself is an uneasy virtue for my fellow liberals, who rightly prize justice without favoritism and view tribalism (that’s what sports loyalties are) with disdain.
In fact, loyalty is a greatly underrated virtue. That’s why I honestly respected Giuliani’s stubborn and unwavering faithfulness to his New York Yankees and appreciated the generous words he spoke upon Joe Torre’s departure this month as the Yankees’ manager.
George P. Fletcher, a Columbia University law professor, wrote a brilliant book called “Loyalty” in 1993 and once argued in a radio interview that loyalty “creates a certain stability in personal relationships, and I think that it creates, in the people who are loyal, a sense of integrity and continuity.” Or, as he put it in the book, “In the way we draw the lines of our loyalties, we define ourselves as persons.”
“People bring their histories to their loyalties,” Fletcher argues, “which implies that the reasons for attachment to a friend, family or country” — I’d add sports team — “invariably transcend the particular characteristics of the object of loyalty.” No kidding. I was a Red Sox fan in the days of Frank Malzone, Chuck Schilling and Bill Monbouquette, when the Washington Senators often were the only team between us and the cellar. I loved those guys.
So the big question here isn’t whether Giuliani can ever be trusted again since he, a Yankees loyalist, said he was going to root for the Red Sox over the Rockies. The big question is whether, in fact, loyalty to sports teams can lead us to loyalty to God… you know, like baby steps?
Thanks Larry for the heads up.