May 19th, 2012
09:20 AM ET

Letters to the President #1216: 'The value of veteran players'

Reporter's Note: I write to the president every day of the year. Even on weekends.

Dear Mr. President,

Every year around this time I ask if you are following the Stanley Cup playoffs and every year, you say no. Actually, you don’t say anything, but I assume the answer is no. See every hockey fan I know jumps at the chance to talk about the Cup race, and since you don’t even respond, that makes me think that it’s not exactly your cup of tea.

That’s ok, I suppose. I don’t follow basketball, so I guess we’re even.

But it’s been a pretty entertaining series. I was disappointed to see the Caps fall to the Rangers (which seems like years ago, now) but I’ve still enjoyed watching the other teams play. For sentimental reasons I find myself rooting for the New Jersey Devils a bit. Their goalie, Martin Brodeur, has been playing for a long time and seems like a pretty classy guy in a “put me out on the ice and let brutes fire frozen hunks of rubber at my face all night” sort of way.

I find myself cheering for older athletes more the older I get. I find it inspiring to see them out there still outwitting, outlasting, and outscoring their younger colleagues. Well, goalies rarely score, of course, but you get my point.

So much emphasis is put on youth these days; on raw energy and talent, I think these guys can be important reminders of how valuable experience can still be. In truth, while I love seeing a rising young star, if I had to choose a team to play in any tournament, I’d take the seasoned veterans any day. Although they don’t always wow the crowd, they also don’t worry about it. They may not make the flashiest plays, but they often make the most effective ones. In short, I think older competitors…in sports, business, politics, you name it…often show more patience, more cunning, more self-possession, and more focus on what really counts than young competitors do.

I think sometimes you may have weakened your White House when you came into office, in by focusing too much on youth, and not respecting experience enough. In some ways, I can’t blame you. I enjoy working with young people. New ideas and energy are wonderful. But here’s the thing: The best, older workers can also be energetic and open to fresh ideas; while younger workers, try as they might, can never really have much experience…they just haven’t lived long enough.

Might be something to keep in mind during your campaign, next time one of the kids on your team gets a little too pushy about a “great idea.” Chances are, one of your older team members saw that idea years ago and already knows how it will play.

Hope all is well. Call if you can.