Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area introduced me to a love of basketball, with that came a cult-like obsession with the Golden State Warriors. From the days of “We Believe” with Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson shocking the world in an upset over the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks, to the glory days of five straight finals appearances and the immortal emergence of Steph Curry and all of the dog days in between, I fell in love with the game and the team that represented my home.
These days, the revelation that I am a Warriors fan is not taken very well by those not from the Bay Area.
I understand. They’re jealous. Not everyone has a Steph Curry on their team.
Sometimes this jealousy, or the bitterness of their team being dominated by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson over the last half-decade (we’re looking at you Utah Jazz), results in attempted take-downs of Curry and the dynasty he has built. He hasn’t won a finals MVP. He missed some (very rare) big shots late in games. He can’t win without Kevin Durant.
Blah, blah blah.
I’m not having any of it. Steph Curry could never win another game for the Warriors, he could demand a trade and blow up our roster, he could miss every shot he takes from now on, but it doesn’t matter. Steph Curry has earned my loyalty.
Over the summer, I heard of a young mayor from South Bend, Indiana who was running for President. Politically frustrated and discouraged, I felt something unfamiliar when I first heard Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak: hope. I knew it would be nearly impossible for him to win even a single delegate, let alone become the nominee or next president, but he spoke in a way that aligned with my values, he talked of religion in the same way I thought of my own religion, and as a leader, he inspired me.
Long story short, I changed some plans and got a job as a field organizer working on Mayor Pete’s presidential campaign in Iowa. By the end of my time with the campaign, I was able to introduce Pete at a rally I had organized with hundreds of people showing up in a rural town in Iowa. It was an incredible experience, and I believe strongly that he represented the best choice to lead our country.
After a shocking win in the Iowa caucus and a strong performance in New Hampshire, Pete failed to keep the momentum and dropped out of the race on March 1. I didn’t expect Pete to win, nor did I join the campaign because I wanted a guaranteed career in American politics. My point is not to convince you of how great Mayor Pete is or to feel sympathy for me because he dropped out (or gloat, depending on how you feel about me).
The point is that Mayor Pete is not Steph Curry.
Mayor Pete does not get a free pass to do, say or lead with no consequence. I have no loyalty to him. I respect, admire and approve of his leadership, values and policies. But, if that leadership, values or policies begin to shift in a way that no longer aligns with what I view as right and good, I will not shift with him.
This is not the same as the sports world, where you are commended for sticking with your team during the bad years, seasons or games.
Values and personal commitments shouldn’t have off-years, and winning isn’t everything, especially if it means compromising the very morals and beliefs that I am created of. If I let my values and moral beliefs be represented by someone who diminishes and corrupts them without a second thought — all so that I can say that I won, or that my “team” won — I will have my reward of superficial gratification. Once any satisfaction social media gloating inevitably fades away I would be nothing but a moral mercenary, willing to deal away my values for the sake of saving face and being on a fleeting movement that will leave me behind the second I regain integrity.
If and when Pete runs for President again, he is not guaranteed my vote nor my loyalty. My vote and support will go wherever I think my values, beliefs and ideas are best represented. Maybe it will be with Pete, maybe not, I don’t know. What I do know is that the next time Steph Curry steps on the court for the Warriors I will be as enthusiastic as ever in cheering for him.
In sports, there is nothing more cowardly than a fair-weather fan. In politics, there should be nothing more noble.