After thoroughly discussing both Rand’s interpretation of a classic liberal and Kemmis’ description of a civic republican, I, being a sports addict, quickly drew the comparison to what it means to be a “good teammate.” Every day in the sports world, we listen to analysts critique certain players for being selfish or stats-obsessed, while they should be focusing on just one thing: team success. This made me think: Can an athlete be both a classic liberal (stats-driven and selfish) and a civic republican (a good teammate)? Can you change your mindset after years of acting in a certain manner? To investigate this thought-provoking question, I thought it would be best to look at one player who is the perfect example: first year New England Patriot Chad Ochocinco.
Before delving into whether Ochocinco can bury his classic liberal mindset in relation to football and become the “typical” New England Patriot, it is important to make the direct distinction between a classic liberal and a civic republican. In Rand’s The Fountainhead, the author describes the character Roark as someone who focuses on the individual and is selfish. In the text, Roark states that “No man can live for another” (Rand, 408). In the game of football, the key to victory is making sacrifices for your teammates and doing anything that is necessary for the good of the team. Clearly, a classic liberal, in a football sense, would have trouble with this. This type of player cares only about the number of yards, catches, tackles, or any other type of individual stat he can accumulate.
Kemmis, on the other hand, describes a civic republican as someone who focuses on the community, cooperation, shared values, and the common good. This is evidenced in Kemmis’ Barn Raising through his descriptions of characters that “…could count on one another.” (Kemmis, 121) In relation to football, a civic republican is the definition of a good teammate.
Now that we can make the distinction between a classic liberal and a civic republican in relation to football, it’s time to address whether or not Chad Ochocinco can bury the classic liberal in him and discover his civic republicanism for the good of the team. For his entire career, Ochocinco has been an NFL star that cares about one thing: himself. Whether he’s complaining to his quarterback that he wants the ball more, bragging about his numbers and future hall of fame status, or celebrating his touchdowns in an over-the-top, excessive manner, Chad Ochocinco has never been shy about exhibiting his selfish (classic liberal) beliefs.
However, this season, Ochocinco joined the New England Patriots, the NFL’s model franchise that is led by the legendary Bill Belichick, a strict, no nonsense, team-first head coach. Ochocinco claimed that he plans to bury his typical on and off the field antics for the good of the team, but many critics and football analysts doubt that this is possible.
If we once again examine the classic liberal-civic republican relationship in an historical context, the revolutionary author Thomas Paine is the perfect example of someone who had both liberal and civic republican traits. Paine was in full support of innovation and change (liberal), but is historically known as a civic republican due to his focus on the community and shared values.
Therefore, I believe that, for now, we should trust Ochocinco and believe that he is capable of burying his inner classic liberalism and selfishness for the good of the team and discovering that he can still contribute to the New England Patriots. The first two games of the regular season support this belief, as he has only recorded 3 catches for 59 yards and no touchdowns, but has not complained once about playing time or number of targets. Teammates have raved about his football intelligence and team-first attitude, including star quarterback Tom Brady.
However, much of the season remains. There is plenty of time for Chad Ochocinco’s inner classic liberalism to creep up.