A Few Days When Sport Didn’t Matter

TORONTO (Nov. 8) — During the same week that Joe Biden toppled the most–unscrupulous political figure in the free world, right–winger Joey Anderson signed a three–year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This absurd correlation (apart from Anderson’s position) underscores how professional sport had rarely mattered less than during the 100–odd hours between Tuesday morning and early Saturday afternoon, when news outlets projected Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the United States general election.

Not that much happened in the realm of sports. With hockey, basketball and baseball idle, the National Football League held center–stage: a Thursday night encounter in Santa Clara, Calif. between the Green Bay Packers and overmatched San Francisco 49ers. The National Basketball Association spoke wistfully about a late–December start to its 2020–21 season; the National Hockey League even more vaguely about a Jan. 1 puck drop; neither having yet released a schedule of games. So, there was minimal distraction among sports fans relating to the historic and elongated election process. More importantly, there was a trigger — the most–appalling, deceitful and delusional person to ever hold office in the White House. That Donald Trump accumulated many more than the necessary 270 Electoral College votes in the 2016 general election was an abiding mystery throughout his chaotic term as President. When it began to appear — on Tuesday night — that it would happen for a second time, a wave of anxiety and despair enveloped much of the United States.

This apprehension easily traversed the border, where so many Canadians invested emotionally in the outcome of the American political process. Unavoidably, I found myself among them… intensely hoping not so much that Joe Biden would somehow win the election (though I’ve always found him powerfully decent), but that Donald Trump would lose. And, lose hard. In that realm, I was far from alone. I awoke Wednesday feeling depressed. On Facebook and Twitter, I posted a cathartic message: “How can so many people vote for such a deplorable, dishonest person?” Several hours later, prior to working a funeral service at Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park, I chatted with an American–born rabbi who had cast a vote in the election. “Don’t worry, this thing is far from over,” he insisted. “Once they begin counting mail–in votes — particularly in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — Trump’s lead will vanish. You’ll see.” Never had truer words been spoken.


THE DEEPEST CUT: DONALD TRUMP’S PROPAGANDA NETWORK CONCEDES SATURDAY AFTERNOON. NO “FAKE NEWS” HERE.

When the Electoral count began to snowball in Biden’s favor, my dour mood lifted.

As long as I live, I’ll not forget (nor will history) Trump’s dreadful and shocking address to the nation on Thursday night — while perched in front of the Presidential Seal in the briefing room at the White House; yet another act of impertinence from such a small, pitiful man. As he prevaricated for ten long, gruesome minutes about the fictional plot against him, I knew his time was up. This was a diatribe best viewed in the absence of sound. While his opponent spoke with poise and composure — standing tall; shoulders square to the TV cameras — the shabby, lamentable incumbent stood pitched to one side, espousing his gibberish in a nearly catatonic haze. If ever a man had “defeat” written all over him, this was it; later compounded by slithering silently past bewildered reporters. A final act of mournful cowardice.

Amid the stockpile of memoirs written by those formerly affiliated with the outgoing president, one stands alone. Michael Cohen, the long–time “fixer” and personal attorney to Trump, spends the better part of 432 pages in DISLOYAL calling himself a schmuck; wondering how he could have so–blindly played lapdog to his Machiavellian client, ultimately serving a prison sentence after pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations. No person beyond immediate family grew such a visceral relationship with Trump.

And, no author put it quite–so bluntly. Examples:

The United States was being torn apart; its political, cultural and mental well–being threatened by a clear and present danger named Donald Trump, and I had played a central role in creating this new reality.

Trump had cheated in the [2016] election, with Russian connivance, as you will discover, because doing anything — and I mean ANYTHING — to “win” has always been his business model and way of life.

 
I bore witness to the real man — in strip clubs, shady business meetings and the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.

I stiffed contractors on his behalf; ripped off his business partners; lied to his wife, Melania, to hide his sexual infidelities; bullied and screamed at anyone who threatened Trump’s path to power. From golden showers in a sex club in Vegas, to tax fraud, to deals with corrupt officials from the former Soviet Union, to catch–and–kill conspiracies to silence Trump’s clandestine lovers, I wasn’t just a witness to the President’s rise. I was an active and eager participant. I made choices along the way — terrible, heartless, stupid, cruel, dishonest, destructive choices. In this naked lust for power, the President and I were soul mates.

Now, sitting alone in an upstate–New York prison, I thought about the man I knew so well. I became convinced that Trump will never leave office peacefully. I’m certain that Trump knows he’ll face prison time if he leaves office; the inevitable cold karma to the notorious chants [from the 2016 election, aimed at Hillary Clinton] of “Lock her up.” Whoever follows Trump into the White House… will discover a tangle of frauds and scams and lawlessness. I see the cornered look in his eyes as he flails and rants and raves. I see the men who have replaced me and continue to forfeit their reputations by doing the President’s bidding, no matter how dishonest, sleazy or unlawful. Rudy Giuliani, William Barr, Jared Kushner and Mike Pompeo are Trump’s wannabe fixers, sycophants willing to distort the truth and break the law in the service of the Boss. 


As I watched television for much of Saturday, my mind’s eye flashed to the grainy, black–and–white film of euphoric Americans taking to the street to celebrate Japan’s surrender on Sep. 2, 1945 and the end of World War II. I recalled the unfettered joy of African Americans when O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double–murder on Oct. 3, 1995; even if the same people understood that a Los Angeles jury ignored physical and forensic evidence that pointed to only one man on Earth. The outpouring of elation and relief in the hours after Trump’s defeat is like nothing we’ve ever witnessed as part of a United States election. It was a good day.

Now, we can return to the perplexity of the Maple Leafs re–signing Michael Hutchinson. Game over.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

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