Creme de la Cramer

After spending one whole week trying to figure out exactly how Hans J. Morgenthau's balance of power system fits into the scheme of international relations, I finally realized that his theories are totally irrelevant to today's political scene.

However, after several more days of thinking about why I purchased Morgenthau's elaborate collection of hardbound theories, it occurred to me that his theories don't really concern nations at all. Instead, Morgenthau has written probably the most systematic and enlightening book about pro sports since Lou Gehrig, Boy of the Sandlots.

Of course all the various political debris must be cleared away before the sports analogy can be seen, but with just a few brief examples of applications, the validity of balance-of-power sports becomes obvious.


In this ever-struggling world of Charlie "Metternich" Finely, Baron von Kroc (the Padres's mastermind of realpolitik) and Bob "Castlereagh" Short (since ousted from his Texas kingdom), the balance of power explains all. After a long winter season of pacts which guarantee support from the lackey ballplayers, baseball begins its annual summer campaign in early April. Once the campaign begins, cityteams continually battle to stay ahead, clashing as frequently as four or five times a week during those hot months of July and August.

Some teams, to conserve natural resources, get together during the season to sign non-aggression pacts. A good example of one of these non-aggression treaties is last year's National League East's Holy Alliance. In this balance-of-power division, six mediocre teams agreed to refrain from competing and produced a remarkably stable equilibrium--each club ended up near the .500 mark.


In any balance of power there are both strong and weak teams, and, naturally, the weaker ones must make concessions. San Diego and Texas agreed to give up about three-quarters of their games to rival teams. This provision of the balance system explains exactly how some teams can lose so many games and still remain in the bipolar alliance system of the American and National Leagues.

Nowhere does the balance of power apply more successfully than in the noholds barred combat of the NHL. How else can on explain the presence of both the Boston Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies (Flyers) in those play-off survival contests.

With the appearance of the WHA, the pro-hockey scene has been transformed into the paradigm of a bipolar model. Along with that second bloc of teams come all the crises and machinations of the typical dichotomous set-up. Deterrance--the art of producing in the mind of a player the fear to jump the league--dominates the hockey scene. Bobby Hull fell victim to this threat when he was denied a chance to play in last year's Canada-Russia series.

But these types of battles aren't limited to politics among hockey teams. Basketball has developed into a two-bloc system, and, recently, football has become a tri-polar set-up on the NFL, CFL and the lesser WFL (Very similar to the U.S., Soviet Union, China big three line-up). Among these last three there has been a constant battle to recruit and sign-up college talent which closely resembles the scramble among superpowers to enlist lesser nations on their sides, often through devious alliances.

Of course these are just a few examples of the limitless applications of the balance of power to pro sports. With new pro alliances emerging every day, including the powerful tennis and track leagues, there is no sign yet of an end to sports world applications of Morgenthau's balance-of-power theories.

Recommended Articles