Please don’t celebrate at halftime – the game is not over

Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, the annual Georgia/ Florida football game is played in the downtown Gator Bowl, which today has some corporate name on the building. It was dubbed the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party, even though it was a college game where no alcohol is served. Since it is usually a sell out, the networks televise the game locally.

Watching the game with several friends one year, all but one of which were Florida fans, the Gators took a 27 to 14 lead to the halftime locker room over Georgia. My Georgia Bulldogs’ friend had to leave after much teasing and, as he did, he said “Remember gentlemen, they play two halves.” The Bulldogs came roaring back to win 41 to 27, with the Gators not scoring in the second half.

I remember this often, as I see business people and politicians celebrate victories at halftime. I recall two incidents one that happened this week and one in the former president’s first year. This week, President Biden celebrated on the front driveway with a bipartisan group of Senators the agreement on an infrastructure bill that is sorely needed for our country. By the next day, the agreement may be waylaid as the president spoke again pairing the bill with another one he wanted passed during reconciliation. Not smart. Now, the bill may not get passed as he made the other party look bad.

In 2017, former president Trump had House Republicans to the White House to celebrate a repeal and replace bill of the Affordable Care Act. The bill was poorly conceived, debated, and rushed, but there they were spiking the ball saying look what we did. Later that summer, the Senate failed to pass the bill, with Senator John McCain joining a few other Republican Senators to defeat it. McCain noted he was offended how the bill did not follow due process and, as a result, would hurt many millions of Americans.

In this 24×7 news cycle, too many things get reported before they are fully baked. The stories give the impression this is a done deal. The stories are too often portrayed in a zero-sum manner with one side winning, the other side is losing. My business career relied on interpreting laws, regulations and rulings. It is funny, but the press did not refer to the Reagan White House or the Clinton White House when discussing these matters, referring instead to the IRS, Department of Labor, SEC, House, Senate, reconciliation of differing language in the House and Senate bills, etc. It was not reported as a contest.

So, a strong message to legislators and reporters. Do not celebrate at halftime – the game “ain’t over until it’s over” as the famous New York Yankee Yogi Berra used to say. And, reporters and pseudo news people, focus on the what, how, why, and when and less on the who. I have long grown weary of news reporting on who wins or loses in legislation. As noted earlier, it is not a contest. The idea is for the constituents to win.

Note: For sports fans, I want you to Google “Frank Reich and comebacks,” who as a quarterback led two of the greatest comebacks in collegiate and pro football history. In both games, one for his University of Maryland the other the Buffalo Bills, the eventual winning teams were well behind and written off by the announcers. And, if more recent history is for your liking, think Tom Brady and his New England Patriots roaring from behind in the Super Bowl to beat the Atlanta Falcons.


12 thoughts on “Please don’t celebrate at halftime – the game is not over

    • Good to know. What is interesting about the Bills comeback against the Houston Oilers, is Reich was the back up quarterback. He also was the starting QB for the Carolina Panthers first team. Keith

  1. I remember as a child, my parents taking me to baseball games and often getting up and leaving in the 7th inning, assuming the team that was ahead had it sewn up and figuring they could beat the crowds to the parking lot! A few times, they were in shock to hear on the nightly news that the team that was behind in the 7th inning made a comeback and won the game!

    The media is guilty of extrapolating based on a current situation, and they, too, are often wrong. Remember that now famous headline by the Chicago Tribune in 1948: “Dewey Defeats Truman!” Boy did they have egg on their face the next day!!!

    • Jill, so true. Baseball is more known for comebacks, as each hit makes the next batter think he or she can get one. The media wanting to call things early can cause problems. I remember Fox was so convinced SCOTUS was going to rule unconstitutional the ACA the first time, they botched the news piece and got it wrong. Keith

      • Indeed, we humans often jump the gun, thinking we know for certain the ultimate outcome of something, only to find out there were factors we didn’t take into account. I remember November of 2016 when I was so certain that common sense would prevail and we would be addressing President Hillary Clinton … luckily I didn’t bet the family farm, eh?

      • Jill, when I was reading about cognitive dissonance, a key part of it is people make rash judgments about people they follow, often based on an initial impression. So, when data tells us that person has been lying to us, it causes disharmony or dissonance in his followers. Instead of taking that in, the person runs home to mama (the mentor) and say tell me it ain’t so and are comforted (it is all fake news sweetie, mama says).

        This is what happens when MAGA folks are confronted by facts that say the former president is being deceitful. They run home to their source (Carlson, Hannity, or even Trump) who tell them not to believe it and they are content again until the next lie comes up.

        So, these snap judgments do damage, as many may not read or hear about the real story. News corrections do not get read very often. Keith

    • Janis, I was too. I think he wanted to appease some progressive Democrats. I did see where Fox’ Chris Wallace took a Republican congressman to task today about not voting for the infrastructure bill which had $350 billion for law enforcement funding. Keith

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