Steamboat Springs As anyone who has known me for more than five minutes can attest, I am a lifelong Oklahoma Sooners fan. Nevertheless, I must congratulate Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Volunteers women's basketball team on their second consecutive national championship. This was the program's eighth national championship, having played in a total of 13 national championship games. This is all the more impressive when you consider that there have only been a total of 26 national championship games in the history of women's college basketball.
The reasons for this amazing success are clear. This program insists on hard work and demands excellence. There are no excuses. There are no shortcuts. There are only wins and losses, and second-best is failure. There is a large culture of this sort in women's college basketball. Look at Coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn program and Coach Brenda Frese and the Maryland program, just to name a couple of examples.
I am saddened to note that, by contrast, in recent years, my Oklahoma program has not insisted on the kind of intensive training that is necessary for success and has shown a tendency to make excuses for shortcomings. In the past few years, the result has been being bounced from the tournament in the early rounds, despite renowned recruiting classes.
Like basketball, our American society has a lot of "coaches." They are leaders of all stripes - religious leaders, civic leaders, and, really, anyone influencing some of the rest of us. How are these coaches doing? Some are phenomenal, but to the extent that these coaches are politicians, they are, to a large extent, doing a poor job.
Almost 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." He also famously said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
We have strayed far from these ideals. Many of today's politicians, particularly those of President Kennedy's party, hold the opposite view of human nature. Implicit in the policies advocated by many politicians, particularly Democrat leaders such as Hillary, Barack, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, is the notion that the American people just cannot do it on their own. They lack the wisdom, skills and strength to succeed on their own, without the "helping" hand of government. They also implicitly assume that those who have been able to succeed must have done so unfairly.
Accordingly, these leaders advocate a litany of government "assistance" programs to "help" you with virtually every facet of your life - from health insurance to child care to subsidized ethanol fuel to intensive regulation and entitlement programs, seemingly without end. They, of course, propose to finance this by promoting class warfare - on the backs of those who have succeeded, in their minds, unfairly.
This is the antithesis of good coaching. These kinds of programs are not designed out of concern for our society, but out of concern for the political careers of the proponents. It, unfortunately, bears out the observation of Alexis de Tocqueville, "The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money."
The good news is that, like new high school graduates choosing their colleges, we get to choose our coaches.
Do we want to be champions or get bounced in the first round?
Let's choose wisely.
Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs and Austin, Texas, a former member of the Pilot and Today Editorial Board and a Director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado. His great-grandparents moved to Steamboat in 1926. He holds a B.A. from Oklahoma and a docto