Monday, January 02, 2006

The Ups and Downs of Consistency

Consistency. It seems that in the present cultural moral compass, consistency ranks right up there with pure love and universal brotherhood. What is it exactly that makes a consistent outcome so appealing? In the sports world, we see marks of this ratings index with the present evaluations of the careers of Brett Favre and Jerome Bettis. Heck, we love Brett Favre because he went out there and played every day for 11 years and was consistent. He was consistent with his TD's as well as the high number of INT's. How about Jerome Bettis, lovingly known as the "Bus." He was the consistent factor of the Pittsburgh offense that could always score a TD from four feet away. Well that's just great.

I personally don't have knocks on Bettis or Favre but I question the way in which consistency is heralded to an unprecedented extent in our culture. Heck, we love our President because no matter how wrong he continues to be, he will consistently keep turning the corner on Iraq and telling New Orleans that they can take care of themselves. In 2004, it didn't matter what the issues were, we couldn't be inconsistent with our world policy at such an important time. Yes, consistency rules our culture in an unrelenting headlock.

Perhaps it's because we are insecure. Think about it. Why are Americans so scared of Europe? (And we are). It's because the whole place is completely inconsistent with the core American value of doing the exact same thing every day for the rest of our life.

There is nothing that Americans love more than consistency. Thanks Boston Red Sox for throwing that off last year. We were perfectly happy with knowing that you were never going to win and planning our October vacation plans around it.

The Davidson Wildcats are having one of the best starts to a basketball season in recent memory and yet even now, on the eve with our huge matchup against UNC, fans are uneasy with the team's inconsistent play. The team's most heralded stat was it free throw percentage or ability to consistently make every single shot from a line 15 feet from the rim. The knock on Davidson right now? They can't consistently make threes. They can't consistently outrebound bigger teams.

Now before every single basketball fan, Pittsburgh Steeler or Republican writes me off as a jealous college student who supports losing politics and the schizophrenic Carolina Panthers, let me say that I have absolutely no qualms with the ability to perform at a similar level over a course of multiple opportunities. I simply question the need to put consistency in a blinding spotlight that overshadows the need to improve and react to differing circumstances. Life is not about consistency. It is not about creating inertia that results in the horrifyingly comforting solution of routine. I know this because for the first time in 5 months, I spent two weeks out of routine. Two weeks doing things differently with a different mindset and different goals. I won't lie when I say that things are much easier now, but I've certainly cultivated various skill sets that routine consistently squelches. College students thrive on routine, sports writers love to write about consistent performers, and politicians make a living on the need of Americans to hear the exact same thing over and over. Because God forbid that our Interstate highway system didn't always lead straight to an overpriced gas station or a McDonalds that has consistently served over 10 billion overweight drips. Consistency is not the answer to our world. Love? possibly. Perspective? maybe. Hard work? might help. But I promise you that it won't be the end of the world if these things don't come at a steady pace.


Ellen said...


and - of course - a sense of humour

Ellen said...


and - of course - taking things with a sense of humour