Remember when the Bears played the Lions on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago? The third presidential debate was that night, too, and there was a great divide across the entire nation. No one knew which to watch, and I understand why. After all, what’s more American: democracy or football? It’s a good question.
For me, I didn’t have to think twice about what I was going to watch. I wanted to watch the debate. I love political season. To me, it has every aspect of sports but magnified.
Plus, I don’t like the Bears or Lions.
Now, I will preface this column by saying this: There are two types of people who really irk the tar out of me during political season, and I see them everyday on social media.
The first are the people who make their status/tweet something like, During the debate tonight, I’ll be playing Madden 13 and doing my laundry, trying to sound mature and all, as if they’re too good for politics, not realizing that their unashamed apathy neglects the very freedoms we’re privileged to have, the foundations that make us unlike any other country, and consequently make them seem unappreciative as if they are tossing a plateful of food in the garbage in front of starving children. “Live in Syria,” I want to say, “And let me know if you’re too cool for debates.”
“You’re rude and ungrateful,” I want to say.
The other people that bug me are just the opposite—the people that care too much, as if Barack Obama or Mitt Romney holds the keys to the pearly gates, like our salvation depends on the next American president. And you know exactly what I’m talking about. Once every four years, people come out of the woodwork as self-proclaimed experts, making opinionated claims against a candidate, candidates who are—no matter which party—undeniably intelligent. I’ve seen people cry on election night before—some out of joy, others out of anger. “It doesn’t matter that much,” I want to say, “There’s this thing called Congress and also someone named God.”
Now, getting back to the point of this column, I like the presidential race because 1) I like democracy enough to value the process, 2) It’s not the end-all to my hope in this world, and 3) It’s like sports on steroids, like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run race in 1998 (how awesome was that?).
Whatever sports has to offer, the presidential race has more. And here’s why…
Conflict: The conflict during debates is impeccable. It’s more than helmets pounding helmets, which results in penalties anyway. It’s personal. I don’t have a clue what they are talking about 80 percent of the time, honestly, but whenever there are two people calling each other liars, I’m sucked in, captivated, whether that’s Jersey Shore or the presidential debates. Although I do feel better about myself if it’s two Ivy League guys going at one another’s throats, not people named Snooki, Pauly D or Jwoww.
Rules: If you don’t play by the rules in sports, you’re penalized. If you don’t play by the rules in debates, if you don’t answer the question in the amount of time you’re given and you go over, well, nothing really happens—both candidates just shout over each other and talk longer, which is entertaining. Then the moderator gets angry, which is also entertaining. Then Jim Lehrer rolls his eyes at the President of the United States, which is even more entertaining. The moderator literally can’t do anything but speak louder. Imagine a football game where referees have no authority to call penalties. Now we’re talking.
Winners: Sports could be so much better if there were no scoreboards (this isn’t a socialist scheme). Just think: What if football was like the debates? Two teams beat the heck out of each other for a length of time; then the rest of the week, we count the bruises and decide ourselves who won. A three-hour game on Sunday becomes a week-long extravaganza of dissecting, analyzing and deciding the winner.
Media: Which brings us to the media. I’ll take Piers Morgan over any ESPN personality any day. That’s not a knock on any ESPN personality. I just have a journalistic crush on Piers.
Strategy: Everything is so much bigger than offensive game plans and defensive formations. Political strategies target races, genders, and personal dirt, like whether or not the candidate smoked weed in college.
Character: You can’t really tell lies during sporting competition. You either make the shot or miss it. Win or lose. I love the fact-checking aspect of the debates when we find out which one was lying about a certain subject. And then we elect one of the liars.
Election night: There are so many different factors that make election night entertaining. In sports, no team ever scores more points than the opposing team but still loses (like the Electoral College). No one ever miscounts points in sports and says, “Oh, wait, there’s a hidden box of points LaDainian Tomlinson scored that we forgot to add to the score” (likeFlorida in 2000).
Everyone participates: This is the big one. In politics, everyone participates. And that’s the point of this column, perhaps. Enjoy the political process. If it’s entertaining to you, like a sport, enjoy the entertainment. If you’re passionate, be passionate. If you don’t care, then start caring. Just enjoy it. We’re privileged to have the system we do, so, as men and women of faith, participate in it.
Campaign ads: I’ve always wanted to say this. I’m Stephen Copeland, and I approve this message.
This column appeared in the latest Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Log in to view here. Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine. His column tackles sports and faith from another angle, whether it’s humorous, personal or controversial. Follow him on Twitter-@steve_copeland or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.