Monday, February 18, 2008

A Place Where Politics and Sports Intersect

It happens every four years. A lot of us come out from under the rocks under which we had been living and suddenly start to pay attention. I mean, it wasn't as if we didn't pay attention all along. It wasn't as if we were completely ignorant or out of the loop. Just as occasionally we might find ourselves watching the Trophee Eric Bompard finals because nothing else was on television on a random Sunday afternoon or we might read an interview with the next up and coming American hopeful, we do keep ourselves sortof informed. But, let's face it, unless you are obsessed or in the business, it is hard to stay really focused on the issues on a daily basis. Real life has a way of elbowing it out of the forefront of your thoughts. Which means that when the year of the big competition rolls around, we throw ourselves into it headlong. Suddenly we all are watching ESPN to get the latest news and obsessively checking various sports blogs several times during the day. Suddenly, everyone is an expert and one finds that at every party to which one goes, one overhears people saying things like, "No woman has even attempted a triple axel" and one must resist the urge to point out that, no, Midori Ito was the first woman to land a triple axel in international competition 1988 and other women have successfully completed the jump since then. Suddenly, your brain is filled with trivia about the various competitors ("when she was little, she wanted to become a nun!") and obscure judging rules. Suddenly we all care so much and so deeply, and for a brief period of time, it is all we think about or talk about. And then, the competition occurs, the winner emerges, and we slowly go back to our lives. Yeah, we may talk about it with people, but it slowly recedes back into the recesses of our brains.

Now, doesn't that sound just like what we've all been doing with this year's presidential campaign?

Please note, I am not suggesting that the details of an athletic meet rivals the choosing of the president of the most powerful nation on Earth in importance. Not at all. I just can't help but notice an odd similarity in the reactions of so many people I have observed. I mean, a few months ago, I would have been as stunned to hear people talking about the difference between a caucus and a primary as I would be to overhear them talking about the difference between a lutz and a toe loop. But crossing into the year of the quadrennial event changes everything. Everything seems magnified, everything seems important, and everything seems to matter.

The big difference being that in the case of the presidential election, it really and truly is important and, if the last eight years is any indication, who wins does matter.

Postscript: After reading yesterday's round of smear attacks on Barack Obama (and the tortured logic behind them: Not giving any credit whatsoever to someone who was instrumental in getting the book written (and may or may not have written a good chunk of the book herself)=honest and ethical, nothing worth mentioning or pertinent with regards to someone’s character whereas using a couple of lines from someone else’s speech with the person’s express permission and at their suggestion=dishonest and unethical, definitely not someone who should be trusted to be president) and then reading this article in Politico, I am beginning to feel like this election year has its very own Tonya Harding.

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1 Comments:

Blogger H. V. said...

Maybe if the presidential candidates wore sparklier costumes, we wouldn't have to worry about voter apathy.

11:29 AM, February 22, 2008  

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