The Other Side Sucks

David Gartland

THERE ARE CERTAIN expressions I’ve heard during my lifetime which, for one reason or another, have stayed with me. In a previous article, I related how a coworker encouraged me to “keep on keeping on” when confronted with a challenge, and how Napoleon Hill’s expression “burning desire” struck me as a great way to describe a goal worth seeking.

Here’s another expression I’ve never forgotten: “The other side sucks.”

I’ve been a race car fan ever since my older brother introduced me to automobile racing in my youth. I especially enjoy Formula One racing. These international racing events gather the best of the best—mechanics, engineers, drivers and the sponsors who pay for it all.

One of the Formula One race tracks I’ve visited is in Watkins Glen, New York. In the 1960s, Watkins Glen was the only race track that hosted a Formula One race in America. There were others in the years that followed but, at the time, Watkins Glen was the only one.

The racing community that sponsored the event, along with the owners of the racing teams, were sophisticated. The same couldn’t be said of the fans at Watkins Glen, who weren’t necessarily from society’s upper crust.

One area of the Watkins Glen track was known as “the bog.” It was a valley within the racing grounds that would become muddy following rain storms. This area became a gathering place for fans, who took great joy in directing late arrivals to this muddy area, especially after it was dark. Upon entering the bog, many cars would get stuck. Amid the resulting melee, cars would often be damaged. This led to Formula One’s sanctioning body to stop holding races at “the Glen.”

On one particular night at the bog, two separate and distinct groups formed on each side of the valley. One side began to chant, “The other side sucks.” That, in turn, caused the other side to repeat the chant, which was both funny and meaningless, since both sides were a muddy mess and neither group could truly evaluate the other side.

Since that time, I’ve become aware of other groups who have become organized in one fashion or another into two separate groups. Each side will decide the other side is deficient, wrong, stupid or missing some key piece of information.

These groups could be based on politics (Democrats/Republicans), religion (Christians/Jews/Muslims/Hindus), skin color (black/white), economic status (rich/poor), labor (union/management), sports (Yankees/Red Sox) and even investment strategy (indexing/active management).

To me, the funny thing is that, if we’re so inclined, we can set up walls to divide us from any group we choose. But why bother? What difference does it make? We’re all human. We’re all made about the same. We all have differences, but we also all have similarities. Why do our differences overpower our similarities?

The other side will always suck—if that’s what we choose to believe. But we don’t have to.

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