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story.lead_photo.caption MARK HUMPHREY GAME JOURNAL

Perhaps, the greatest miracle ever in the world of sports occurred June 14, 2017, interestingly, many Americans don't seem to realize the full extent to which lives were protected.

A diabolical plot with intent to take lives spilled blood on the baseball diamond, but was thwarted without deaths of anyone except the shooter when capitol police responded. A gunman, who had worked on the presidential campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders, opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity versus Democrats. Five people were wounded during an attack at an Alexandria, Va., baseball diamond: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.); Capitol Hill police agents, Crystal Griner and David Bailey; Zach Barth, a member of Congressman Roger Williams' (R-Tex.) staff; and Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika.

Double Meanings

In trying to understand the attack, perhaps, at this hour in our history, insights can be gleaned by using American football and soccer to compare and contrast distinctions between a republic and democracy as forms of government.

Soccer is referred to as football in some parts of the world, yet this use of the term fails to distinguish one sport from the other. Both sports involve kicking a ball. Most similarities stop there.

Wide-spread use of the term democracy to describe merely a popular type of government, featuring periodic, genuine, free elections by the people, doesn't explain the differences between a democracy and a republic. Democracy has a double meaning -- as either a popular-type of government in general, or as a specific form of government. This can be confusing.

Majority Rule vs. Individual Rights

American football and soccer hardly resemble one another. Neither does a government designed as a republic in contrast to a government which functions as a democracy.

Democracy features majority rule and is sometimes criticized for lack of any legal safeguard of the rights of an individual person and the minority. In a republic, rule by majority is limited under a written constitution that includes safeguards to maintain the rights of an individual and the minority.

Football and soccer pit 11 players from one squad against 11 from an opposing team with both games played on a rectangular, green surface. Again, differences separate the sports. In soccer, players may be found of misconduct for charging an opponent, but in football defenders are expected to charge the quarterback when a pass is attempted.

In a democracy, the majority holds absolute and unlimited power. Majority decisions cannot be appealed under the legal system established to give effect to this form of government, which contains a vulnerability in that tyranny could be instituted by mob rule.

Thomas Jefferson's View

During the United States Constitution convention of 1787, debates condemned the "excesses of democracy" and abuses under any democracy of the unalienable rights of an individual by the majority.

Thomas Jefferson warned against this type of government operating in the Virginia state legislature in his Notes On The State of Virginia (1781-1782): "All the powers of government, legislative, executive, judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one, 173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one."

In other words, an elected state legislature could govern unchecked in the same manner as the British rule, which the colonists fought a war to dispose if safeguards such as a balance of powers weren't put into effect. Thus, the framers of the Constitution of the United States set up a republic form of government with clearly-defined separation of powers.

John Adams Commentary

John Adams wrote, neglect could lead a republic to deteriorate into a lesser form of government such as democracy (government conducted by popular feeling); anarchy (system in which each person determines his own rules and standards); oligarchy (government run by a small council or a group of elite individuals); or dictatorship (government run by a single individual); and that, "...that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or Liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable [abominable] cruelty of one or a very few."

This is the struggle going on today. Citizens will either pledge allegiance "to the Republic, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all;" or try to circumvent and rewrite the laws which govern this land.

Whether competing in baseball, basketball, football, soccer or any other sport, both teams agree to play by the same set of rules; which is something each American will do well to remember as we prepare to celebrate a new year.

MARK HUMPHREY IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR THE ENTERPRISE-LEADER. HE IS A FORMER ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT AND PUBLIC POLICY ADVISOR TO THE BIG HORN COUNTY COMMISSION OF HIS HOME COUNTY OF BIG HORN COUNTY, MONT. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE HIS OWN.

Sports on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Football vs. Soccer Contrast Sheds Light On Congressional Baseball Shooting

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