91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Auchter's Art: Politicians are a lot like referees

When I was in college, one of my jobs was refereeing intramural basketball games. It was a mostly positive gig: I loved (and still love) basketball, I had a good understanding of the game, and I needed money. It all lined up nicely.

But while I never had the pleasure of having to deal with rabid fans or angry parents, I did often have to wrangle drunken frat boys. Especially for Friday night games. It wasn't too difficult keeping them from killing each other. (Inbound the ball as quickly as possible and blow the whistle super loud when necessary — those were the keys.)

However, drunken or not, the one rule they all had trouble with was the no cursing rule. At the beginning of each game I would explain to both teams with great clarity that if they cursed loudly, I would have to call a technical foul on them. How loud? Loud enough for the local residents, who used the track around the outside of the basketball courts for their walking exercise, to hear it. Those nice people didn't want to hear it, and, more importantly, the Michigan Tech administration (the ones who made the rule) didn't want them to hear it.

Invariably, somebody would blow a layup and let loose with a salty scream. I'd call a T, and they would deny that they said anything, then deny it was cursing, then deny that anybody heard it, and finally deny that I ever told them about the rule.

Point of all this: sometimes it's no fun being the referee. Just like I imagine it's no fun being a politician. At least one that is actually trying to facilitate a fair game. For example, in West Michigan near Big Rapids, local officials are trying to navigate a tricky situation where half the residents are enthusiastic about plans to build two battery plants promised to create 2,350 jobs while the other half, for various reasons, absolutely do not want them.

There are excellent points to be made for both sides, so it will be impossible to find a solution that makes everybody happy. I have a lot sympathy for those local politicians. But mostly it reminds me why I don't really want to ever be a referee again.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
Related Content