Sports, Politics And Other Random Thoughts…

Marc Elliott

BIG SANDY LAKE…. Folks, I’m tired. As much attention as I pay to the world of sports, my recent travels have left me exhausted to the point where, in the middle of the off-season of pro hockey, I haven’t really come across any earth-shaking news, signings, trades, or other items worthy of  expounding on over the past few days. I mean, as much as I can’t stand the Boston Bruins (sworn enemies of my Montreal Canadiens), I spent the better part of this afternoon watching a season review of the Bruins titled “Behind the B” on the NHL Network in a zombie-like state. The last episode focused on the B’s final playoff series versus the Habs. I occasionally switched over to the Toronto Grand Prix, because I love F1 and Indy car racing, but they were plagued by wet weather and challenging track conditions all weekend long.
The best part of the Bruins-Habs series for me, of course, was when the Habs ended the Bruins’ season in the playoffs and I got to watch all over again the B’s exiting the ice, heads down, that lousy feeling permeating the hockey soul for a few days, sometimes weeks, before things kind of normalize again. But I got to feel that myself this spring with one of my other teams falling short of puck glory, so I have to remember that gloating has a way of coming around to find you and reminding you to take a dose of hockey humility. But alas, I seemed to be incapable of deep enough thought to focus on a central topic and roll with it.
Then again, maybe it was some parts of the last two weeks of my travels that were etched upon my mind, disallowing me to think of other things. They were actually kind of a combination of life things, national things, world things, and more. I spent some time in Arizona and Colorado, and was in New Mexico as well. I got to see some great things and some not-so-great things. Having spent the majority of my life in Minnesota, being places where there is not as much greenery is different, to say the least. And bodies of water, big or small, were far and few between.
Going through the Great Southwest, I saw many Border Patrol vehicles on the road. At one point I had to drive through a checkpoint, with all kinds of armed personnel on hand as well as several observation devices set up, presumably to photograph (without my permission) my vehicle and myself as I passed through. And in the middle of this, I had to stop so one of them could ask me if I was a citizen. I bit my tongue, answered yes, and moved on. I could have been held up there for who knows how long if I had told them what I thought of their roadside set-up. This was all right in the middle of the nationwide freak-out over Central and South American kids showing up at our borders.
As I was driving, if I put any news or talk shows on the radio, this was the dominant topic. Are these children illegal immigrants or are they political refugees? It all depends on whose talk show you have on, basically, and what your ideology is. One side says they are running from death squads, gang violence, disease, destitute poverty, and political tyranny. The other side says they are children of illegals already here trying to reunite with their parents and freeload off our system (it’s more complex than that). Busloads of these kids have been met with aggressive protesters blockading their paths.
Well, I dunno. I think as long as the desperate see the USA as a better place than where they are, people will try anything to get here. They literally have nothing to lose. It’s funny that after decades of our meddling in their political and economic affairs, we haven’t seen making their lives better where they are as a viable solution to encouraging them to stay home. But for those who now own our government, that doesn’t mesh with their worldview of a permanent underclass, and them. Yes, they would have us return to the time of peasants, serfs, and barons.  
As I went through northern Arizona, I passed through the Navajo Nation. I have seen poverty before, but what I saw there—the only word that comes to mind is stunning, and that doesn’t even begin to describe it. When I went through the area known as Four Corners, where four state borders meet, and into Colorado, I passed through the Southern Ute Reservation. I only saw more of the same. Unbelievable. At that point I wanted to get a message to the bus protesters that I don’t recall the Native Americans meeting their ancestors upon their arrival here and telling them to go home. I wish that intelligent debate and solutions could replace misguided hysteria.  
The speaker of the House has tabled debate on immigration reform for the remainder of the year. I don’t recall his reason, but you should know that the real reason is because it is a mid-term election year and this is a very unpopular topic. Any legislative misstep could be politically fatal. It would take some political guts to get something done on this decades-old issue this year, and those are nonexistent in Washington nowadays.
A little over a week later, I still can’t get what I saw out of my mind. It was that bad. It has left a heavy feeling within. Trying to focus on remaining NHL free agents and AHL rosters and the like, well, I’m having a hard time getting back into it at the moment.
Toward the end of my journey, the MLB All Star festivities were underway. The New York Yankees’ All-everything Derek Jeter would be participating for his last time; he is retiring at the end of the season. As it should be, there was a lot of focus on him and his career. He was one of two guys over the last 20 years who would get any attention from me relative to the Yanks. The other one retired last year. Mariano Rivera and Jeter played the game the right way. They were ultimate competitors, and you never read any crap about them away from the game. That’s refreshing, huh? PEACE

Marc Elliott is a sports opinion writer who splits his time between Minnesota and his hometown in Illinois…