15 April 2017

On the Merging of Politics and Sports


The following essay was originally "published" in September of 2012.  It remains as timelessly relevant as it was on the day it was originally "published", which is not to make a claim about the matter one way or the other, purse a.

It is clear that The Country is coming apart at the seams, and what is needed is a heavy dose of social cohesion.  One of the few subjects capable of bringing diverse groups of people together these days seems to be professional sports.  Therefore, professional sports must be brought into the political process.  And not just implicitly – as for example the Cleveland Brownshirts – but by law.  The teams and their fan bases must become political parties to advocate for and protect their particular interests.  This will increase political participation and our sense of community and go a long way towards revitalizing this great nation of yours, mine, and ours.

Sure some people don't like sports.  Nothing wrong with that.  But every citizen is or can be persuaded to become a fan of at least one team, if not for the policy platform then for the ancillary social benefits or the color scheme.

Instead of extending unemployment benefits for 'the poor', a vague and easily otherizable designation, it would be framed as, "We need to extend Lombardi Benefits for needy Packer fans."  This is something all Packer fans can get behind: Green and Gold, The Glory, Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer and all that.  Any Packer fan would support a modest surtax on every brat with the money earmarked to fund community education programs for Packer fans less fortunate than themselves.  Just like the Giants didn’t give up on Eli Manning after his first three subpar seasons – and look what it got them: two friggin super bowls – we can't give up on young Brian even if he's flunked his welder's certificate twice, we can extend those benefits because we know he's gonna get back on his feet, consume his share of cheese-filled foodstuffs and give us much-needed special teams depth for the stretch run.

We will have to redraw the electoral map a little bit to accommodate the overlapping fan bases of different sports and cities.  After all, Raider fans should not be taxed to support 49er fans and vice versa.  And a Bronco fan living in San Diego should not have his hard earned money taxed to support the Chargers, I think we can all agree that is not what The Framers had in mind.  Yes the world has changed a whole hunk since they met behind Fort Sumter circa 1763, but some principles are enduring. 

At this time, as with any cockamamie idea, we should focus not on the difficulties but the possibilities. 

Imagine having elections decided by the outcome of the Penguins-Flyers series, determining the passage of legislation by the OBP leaders or taxation rates by the fifth at Pimlico, deciding whether to launch another pointless foreign war based on the results of another pointless late-season Wolverhampton match.

Let the games double as city council meetings, with seven minutes of every halftime set aside for civic matters, doing the public's business and so forth.  Referenda or simple up or down votes on questions of public policy could be speedily conducted by asking fans to flash one of two sides of a pre-distributed placard.  In election seasons games might include campaign rallies, where the candidates briefly outline their vision and policy proposals, take a few seconds to malign and misrepresent their opponent, and then demonstrate their physical fitness as well as ability to handle complex legislation in the Punt, Pass, and Kick.

Chew on that for a second.  We'll be right back to talk more about politics, after this succession of slickly produced, highly charged moments from our sponsors.

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