The Midterms Pep Talk America Needs
[The team sits along the walls, alternately leaning back in a stupor and falling forward with their heads in their hands. Sweat drips from every face, dirt mars every jersey, but the room is silent. Coach paces back and forth.]
COACH: Well, that was some first half, wasn’t it?
[No one says a word. Coach continues to pace a moment longer. Then he stops, squares up, and looks around the room.]
COACH: I don’t know about you guys, but that was the longest two years of my life. Now, I have seen some things, but I have never [throws clipboard to the ground] seen [flings pen at the brick wall] anything [veins pop from his neck] like that.
COACH: WERE YOU WATCHING THE SAME COUNTRY I WAS WATCHING?
Because I thought I came here to see America. I thought I came to see a democracy — or Jesus Christ at least a republic!
You know what I’m seeing instead? [resumes pacing]
Racists [about faces to pace the other way]
Sexists [about face]
Rapists [about face]
Narcissists [about face]
[Stops and looks around the room again]
Nazis…MARCHING IN THE STREETS.
[Coach’s chest heaves with the effort of breathing in a room full of complacency, ignorance, and defeat.]
COACH: Johnson, where were you on November 8th, 2016? Sitting at home with your thumb stuck up your ass?
Dolanson! Where were you January 21st, 2017, when we needed you marching in the streets with us?
Randolph, Huang, Washington, Cisneros, motherfucking DOOLEY! Where have you been the past two years? ’Cause I know you weren’t out on my field. I KNOW you weren’t there when your teammates needed you.
[Coach takes a deep breathe. He lets the silence stretch on.]
COACH: Let’s face it. We’re in hell right now.
We thought we were in America. [Angry finger quotes] ‘The land of the free and home of the brave’ [spits on the ground].
And maybe that was the problem. We thought we were indestructible.
Well, I certainly hope we finally learned our lesson. America is not indestructible. America can crumble, like any other country.
And maybe you only learn that when you start losing stuff.
COACH: Stuff like fair representation. Like voting rights. Like healthcare and Meals on Wheels and the EPA.
Like the ability to look your friends in the eye…
…and tell them that you did everything you could.
That you did everything you could to protect them, to make this a country you all want to live in. A place you can be proud of. When was the last time you felt that way?
[Coach takes off his ball cap and looks at the floor, his other hand on his hip.]
COACH: You only learn when you start losing stuff. And we’re gonna keep losing stuff. Medicare. Social security. Civil rights.
It’s all out there for the taking. And if you candy-asses want to keep sitting on the sidelines, it’s all going to be taken from you.
Or… [Coach raises a finger]
Or…we can fight our way back. Into the light.
COACH: Or we can SHOW UP. We can do our part to end this spiral of dumb-fuckery. And the votes we need are everywhere around us.
COACH: Look around you right now.
Two thirds of us think gun regulations should be more strict. TWO THIRDS!
This team does not want what is playing out on that field…not most of us at least. But it’s gonna keep happening. The worst of us will wield the most power as long as the rest of us stay silent.
We have to show up on November 6, or we’re all going to spend the rest of our lives regretting it.
COACH: So tell me, are we gonna sit here and say it doesn’t matter? Are we gonna look away from the headlines and decide we don’t wanna know? Are we going to leave our friends, our families, and our neighbors to be demolished by cruel, stupid policies?
COACH: Or are we going to step up? [a few players clap]
Are we gonna do everything we can? [shouts of ‘yes’ and ‘damn straight’]
Are we gonna vote for decent human beings with concern for their fellow man?
COACH: Because that’s what I’m gonna do!
[The whole team stands and cheers.]
COACH: IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE GONNA DO?
TEAM: Yes, sir!
COACH: Are you gonna show up on November 6?
TEAM: YES, SIR!
COACH: ARE WE GONNA TEAR THEIR FASCIST HEADS OFF AND SHIT DOWN THEIR NECKS?
TEAM: YES, SIR!
COACH: Hell yeah, we are [Coach puts his ball cap back on and looks around the room, beginning to smile]. And you know how you’re gonna do it?
[Players clap, stomp their feet, beat their fists on lockers. They are a powder keg of explosive human decency. Johnson busts through the door and leads the team into never-ending battle for a just, free society.]