Anyone that has read my op-eds or any of my books knows I often use the “Team America” analogy to illustrate why I think Americans have more in common than we give ourselves credit for. And if we think in terms of working as a franchise, we should be able to minimize our social divisiveness.
For example, during the “Kneeling for the National Anthem” controversy, I suggested football players, of all people, ought to understand how important it is to respect each player’s role, skillset, and psychological makeup. To recognize that the success of the team depends on the combined efforts of everybody pulling the boat in the same direction. That everyone from one end of the bench to the other has something to bring to the team. That in order to win, selfishness cannot be tolerated. And that disrespecting the flag that stands for our Team America is not helpful.
Like it or not, if you want to succeed, there must be a hierarchy and a sense of respect for the organization. That means not everyone can have their play called every time the ball is snapped. Putting personal issues before the interests of the team is a sure formula for destroying team chemistry.
Going to war against any foe, whether it’s another football team or a mutant virus, requires unity of purpose and a well-disciplined team effort.
I admit, getting a team of 330 million players to coordinate their efforts against an invisible enemy such as a contagious disease, is a massive undertaking. But when the chips are down (and I think we can all agree, in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic, they are), we have a common goal: to survive in a hostile environment.
The Coronavirus has created a sense of unity between Americans. It has brought into focus just how vulnerable the human species can be. It has reorganized our priorities. The planet has been around some 4 billion years, but human beings have occupied the globe for only an infinitesimal amount of time. From that perspective, Team Humanity, let alone Team America, is a longshot to survive.
As we find ourselves sequestered, the advertising industry has jumped on the Team America bandwagon. A growing number of 30 and 60 second TV spots feature unity and collaboration themes. Budweiser has a new ad, “This season, we’re all One Team.” The NBA has an ad that says “We’re all part of the same team.” Most of the networks are running public service announcements along the lines of “We can get through this together.”
It is a wonderful thing to see Americans come together in a time of need. But the question has to be asked, “Why now?”
Why do we have to wait until there is a massive threat to the survival of mankind to recognize how much we have in common? How unity of purpose is not only critical, it is fun?
Some will say, “Isn’t that what the Climate Change Movement is all about?”
Climate Change, Global Warming, or whatever you want to call it is a housekeeping issue. It has to do with lifestyle and conservation practices. We can debate the terms of our stadium maintenance agreement during contract negotiations. The Coronavirus is an attack on our very existence! If we don’t win this game, the stadium we play in will forever be empty.
There is no question our nation is divided. No matter what the issue is, polls show we break 48% to 52% or something close to that. Is it any wonder advertisers think appealing to our unity at this moment in time is a good idea?
The “Same Team” theme is wonderful but it seems exploitive to invoke that kind of patriotism only when the country is suffering from an existential threat to our existence. As part of our economic ecology, commercial interests need us as much as we need them. Major advertisers are vital to our economic health. Their employees are customers and their customers are also employees. We are all part of a symbiotic brotherhood. Wouldn’t cultivating a healthy sense of cultural unity all of the time be inherently good for business? What have they been waiting for?
Wouldn’t it be nice to see Budweiser-style sentimental Christmas and patriotic 4th of July ads all year round? The kind that makes you laugh and cry with pride. Why don’t major advertisers point out our unity of purpose, our family traditions, and the selfless sacrifices so many Americans make for our communities and our country in all of their ad campaigns?
I can only hope the silver lining in this pandemic cloud will be the reunification and fortification of our Team America Franchise.
Rick Elkin is a cultural and media observer, author and columnist. His most recent book, The Illusion of Knowledge: Why So Many Educated Americans Embrace Marxism, is available through most online booksellers. He resides in Escondido, California. You can follow him at RickElkin.com or on Twitter @Rick_Elkin.