Democracy is messy but usually bloodless. Football is sweaty and sometimes painful. Football teams choose representative colors such as black and orange or cream and crimson. American politics are red versus blue. Football teams are led by coaches and financed by taxpayers or fat cats. Political parties are led by politicians and financed by drips and drabs via the internet or fat cats. Football teams have a few stars supported by several Sherpas. I was happy to be one of the Sherpas on the Pawhuska, Oklahoma high school Huskies football team a while ago and enjoyed every minute of it, except for wind sprints of course. I am still enjoying supporting the Huskies team which is undefeated and on their way to what I hope will be Pawhuska’s first state championship in football.
Political parties have a few stars supported by, usually, faceless minions. Football teams have one mission, to win, whoever the opponent is. Political parties believe their mission is to provide better government than competing political parties would provide. I will leave it up to you, Gentle Reader, if you believe any political party manages to achieve this goal.
Both football teams and political parties are governed by rules of procedure and conduct. With football teams a conference sets the standards and with political parties governments from the local level on up to the top have a hand in determining policy and ultimate victory. Football games are controlled by officials on the field who can enforce the rules. Their rulings are immediate and not subject to appeal but some can be reviewed. Albeit the final ruling, in effect, is made by the same people who made the initial one. Political races are governed by laws and can be subject to recount, review, repeal and reversal. Football fans sometimes must just grimace and bear a referee’s egregious error, such as giving one team an extra down as in the 1990 Colorado v. Missouri game. Of course, the problem with any attempted remedy in football is it would be impossible to completely and fairly recreate the original game circumstance. On the other hand there is the benefit that, other than endless conversations over beer, the calls at football games are final. But political races such as Bush v. Gore in 2000 may end up in the U.S. Supreme Court and may never be universally accepted as final.
As for me, I am currently marveling how my alma mater, Indiana University, can be undefeated in football after many years of wandering in the football wilderness. This column was written before Michigan v. I.U. upcoming on November 7, 2020, so I am hopeful it remains valid when you read this. And I am chagrined that Oklahoma State University where I started college could have lost to Texas last Saturday. I want a recount! I know I personally saw several blown calls that might have changed the score of the Cowboy game.
Regardless, what I have decided after suffering through the entire 2020 political season and cheering (or moaning) my way along the football season is that the temporary pains that I experienced playing football pale in the excruciation caused by the clanging brass of competing political parties and noxious news anchors. I am thankful for football and am past caring about the motes in the eyes of those who do not see eye to eye with me on politics.