Msnowe's Blog

Ball Games

Posted in politics, sports, super bowl by m.snowe on February 4, 2008

You know, Bush once co-owned a baseball team (the Texas Rangers). Every candidate seems to be out there, throwing a ball around, or talking about which team they support. And in many respects, this is all in efforts for you, the voter, to take sides like you do when you’re rooting for a sports team. Last night, during the Super Bowl, there was no need to watch the actual game — everything could be surmised from the alternating growns and yops of the young couple in the apartment downstairs. The floor would shake, and instinctively, everyone know the score of the game had gone one way or the other, depending on the intonations and subtle variations in the method of absolute insanity. Jumping up and down and a high-pitched yell translated into “the Giants are winning,” whereas the dull thuds of a Pats gain echoed with a low-pitched wallop, as if the man downstairs was falgelating himself (or his wife) with the padded bat of a gong.

What is just so unbelievable is that sports garner enormous support and yet politics, while many find it cause for debate and the occasional squabble, still remains a relatively unpopular pasttime. And why? They have everything sports does – a long game (the parties), odds makers (pundits), cheaters (everyone), exciting clashes (Obama v. Clinton), underdog come from behinds (Huckabee, then McCain), etc. And what’s even more disturbing is that the results of this game will probably dictate what happens in domestic and international policy in at least the next few years, if not have reprecussions far into the future, and ingrain messages into the national psyche. Okay, maybe people do take it semi-seriously, but how many people do you know who can name all the starters on their favorite team, but can’t name their representatives, senators, or even more than two supreme court judges?

It’s understandable that sports make up such a big part of our national conscienceness — and we’re not the only country that cultivates a society of sport – England(football), Australia(footy), most of South America (football), etc., all have a reputation for extreme awareness of sport. In some cases, it is deadly serious (http:// And sport is important because it is a safe outlet (generally, contrary to the newstory quoted above) in which people can be completely biased, completely insane, and yet completely excepted. A world without sport would be a more dangerous one indeed, because it would be a world without an outlet for well-intentioned frivolity. In no other arena can one unequivically bash an opponent with outright prejudice for no real reasons and still be a respected individual in society the next morning at work. Where politics and sports meet, the pressures of prejudice come down much harder, and the water is murkier ( Sport is healthy transferance, I suppose – the Leviathan’s way of taking care of our more animal urges. And sport is more popular because its primarily based on physical ability and brute strength, and the rules (though sometimes broken) , are set in stone. Sport has an oligarchical structure, with a few commissioners deciding on how the rules will be amended, if ever. Usually, they are not changed, which is all the better for fans. Sports are a form of statis in the community, as time goes by, players can change, but the sport itself stays in power. The notion of the “team” is also great, in that it’s structure is so imposing, it allows people to stay “loyal” even when players and managers are traded to different teams in different areas. Political parties try to do this with their platforms, but inevitably, personalities and voices trump the issues, as seen from the current debate, and all the pundits pussyfooting around just who is using their pussy (or lack of one) for political footing, or their skin color for racially driven support.

Politics, in comparison to sports like football and baseball, is only partially acknowledged by the greater population – it has more of a cult following. Similiar to the show audience of “Lost”, most people don’t pay attention to political showmanship, but the audience that does is obsessive, analyzing every twist, turn, and supposed secret clue, and they’re usually way off base. Oh, and they blog too. The main reason politics is less universal is because politics is unfair in more transparent ways, although the structure of sports is unfair as well – but sport provides services to the watching public, and even if the team you like loses, there’s value to watching. Whereas, in politics, your team can win, and you still end up feeling empty, disregarded, compromised or even defeated and hoodwinked. Politics just isn’t as sexy, despite all the scandals. Its hard to knock back a few beers watching a Republican debate, or to wave a big we’re number one finger as a the Democrats go through a crowd, kissing babies. The only thing that both politics and sports excel at jointly is coming up with outrageous, unimportant, and completely stupid statistics, and political polls. Statisticians are the only ones who laugh last during super bowls and super tuesdays. And bookies. The message is clear: sports and politics are both necessary. But perspectives should be renewed when viewing each.