I'm no bigot. You know that.
But I think we need to make them carry special identification cards. Long overdue, really.
That way, we'll always know where they are. Know who they are. (You can't always tell just by looking. Or even hearing them talk.) That way, if we think we see one on the street, or out someplace they don't belong, such as Times Square or Pike Place or Fisherman's Wharf or the French Quarter, we can just walk right up to them and say, "Show me your papers." And if they can't show us their papers, if they don't have their papers in order, well, that's when the trouble starts. Legal trouble. Big trouble. Maybe deportation. Send 'em right back where they came from.
We're talking about our own survival after all. Look at the world. Right?
See, it's easy to go too soft on things like this. You forget what's at stake and you get soft, and who knows where that softness leads.
They love baseball. And you love baseball, too, so it's easy to go all doe-eyed on these people when you see how much they love their baseball. All those players and all those leagues. From pee wee ball on up to the majors. It's a big part of that cactus/desert economy. And a big part of their dreams. All those skinny kids with those loose, beautiful arms, all that liquid zip and pop and bang. The sweet helix of a million-dollar swing. Oh, man. That ambition and where it might take them. They have other sports down there, too, but they're really known for the baseball. Crazy about it.
And so are you, after all.
But if you look at it that way, if you go soft on them, buy into the poetry of it, well, you forget who they really are and what they really believe in. That's risky.
If they were smarter, maybe they'd see that baseball offers an answer, a way out. Or a way in. Let life mimic the game. Because at its best, the game is color-blind. Apolitical. It's a gesture of mind and body that recognizes only mind and body. Run. Hit. Throw. It transcends language and culture and country in the way all sports do. Maybe they'd see it if they were smarter. Maybe they'd see it if they weren't so frightened and angry. You know how hot-headed and hot-blooded they are.
I mean, it's not like I'm suggesting we stitch some kind of symbol to their clothes or anything. That's crazy. A simple laminated card. Maybe with some sort of DNA coding. Or an embedded computer chip. GPS. Make it part of a digital national database. You just carry that special ID card at all times -- or maybe wear it around your neck on a lanyard so the police can see it -- and be prepared to show it to anyone who asks, and everything will be OK. If you forget your card one day, well, a night or two in jail never killed anybody, did it? OK, maybe a couple of people; but until things get straightened out, the risk of some little danger or inconvenience is a small price to pay for our peace of mind. Isn't it? Wouldn't a program like this let the rest of us sleep better?
Because that's what we're talking about, isn't it? Peace of mind? Freedom from fear? And anger? (That they travel so freely among us and take advantage of our privileges and our freedoms is upsetting to every right-thinking American.) So something has to be done, even if it seems wrong at first.
Sometimes, doing what seems like a cowardly thing takes a lot of courage. A lot of courage. And then you get used to it and it's OK. I mean, it gets easier, right? It's not cowardly anymore. To do these things we have to do to protect ourselves.
And let's stipulate here that they're not all bad. Some are very hardworking and honest and good. But many are not. Are you willing to ignore that truth? Sometimes that truth hurts. And there are more than 6 million of them. Too much risk, if you ask me.
Don't misunderstand, this is a miserable little debate to have. Miserable. But something has to be done.
Which is why we need a fence, too, in addition to the special ID cards. We need to build a very big, very strong fence to keep these people out. Because you know how they are. Not just persistent. Loud. Indefatigable. Ceaseless. A fence high enough and strong enough to keep these people out, no matter how determined they are to get in.
Because you know how these people are.
These people. Their ideas are different from ours. From yours and mine. And how they live and think. Their "culture" is different, too, if you can even call it that. Cactus/desert. They don't respect the same things. Like I said, I'm no bigot, but they have some crazy ideas. You know a lot of them carry guns, too, right?
I mean, I know you can't help where you're born, and it's weird to think of a whole place and an entire people as being incorrigible or lost or hopeless, but it's like the Wild West down there. Seriously. Completely out of control.
So until we enforce some of these restrictions on the residents of the state of Arizona, I'm not really going to feel comfortable. I'm sure not going to give them another $50 billion in federal handouts like we did last year. I mean, that's my tax money, right? Why should they enjoy the fruits of all my hard work? Shouldn't I have some say over how these people live?
What do we really know about them? They come to your town or my town and they take up their work and the next thing you know your own baseball players and football players and basketball players can't win a championship because the fields are full of Arizona natives and Arizona transplants like Warner and Johnson and Nash; Finch and Beard and Strug. And the golfers! My God, the Arizona golfers, like locusts, thousands of them in their pastel slacks and skorts, with their gaudy white belts and their awful matching shoes, reeking of daiquiris and leather interiors, from Gulbis to Lehman to Barnes to Mickelson to McCord.
Where does it end?
Don't get me wrong. I'm no bigot. Some of my best friends are from Arizona. Really.
But c'mon. Enough's enough.
Jeff MacGregor is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Please continue to submit your answers to his question "What are sports for?" You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.