Politics: Don’t Worry, This Post is Not Actually About Them

One of my absolute favorite things about sports is how they provide common ground for people from all walks of life within the context of a fairly benign environment.  I mean, sure, Bills fans hate the Dolphins, but that “hate” is just part of a game we sports fans play.  The rivalry is not personal, and furthermore, it’s based on a bunch of freakishly large men throwing a little ball around on a field of grass.  How hateful can we really be over such a thing?  Even the craziest, most deep seated rivalries, like the Red Sox and the Yankees, are hogwash when it comes right down to it.  The battle lines are created by the sports industry so that we can satisfy our natural urges to fight and defend, all within the walls of a carefully manicured arena.  It’s a wonderful system.

I loathe politics.  I feel a responsibility as a member of society to stay informed, and to do things like vote responsibly, but truthfully I struggle with even these simple tasks.  I understand that someone needs to run the government, and I understand that everyday citizens need to fight for what they believe in, but I’ve always found the political world to be grueling and fundamentally disheartening.  Like everyone else, I have my own set of strongly held political beliefs, so I try to stay informed, and I try to help out where I can, but for me, reading about and participating in politics is seldom easy, and never fun.

There seems to be a tacit agreement between sports fans- Let’s agree to disagree only about things of no real consequence.  Let’s work together to preserve this bit of escapism that mimics war, but does no actual harm.

I know that ideologically, sports fans span every inch of the political spectrum, but I love how as a group we never really go there. I think this bit of naturally occurring self censorship is healthy, and I’m so grateful for the respite from constantly churning political machine.  Good work, fellow sports fans.

5 Responses to “Politics: Don’t Worry, This Post is Not Actually About Them”

  1. 1 capsworth August 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with your appreciation of the no-politics-zone that sports can create. Indeed, it’s one of my favorite things about sports – and I say that as an absolute political junkie, the kind of dude who the 24-hr news cycle was made for.

    I was a maniac sports fan from the age of 6 on, which surprised my parents, because neither of them were sports fans, and neither of them were from Buffalo. But growing up on the West Side and then in Black Rock – and having the Bills’ Super Bowl runs to chew over from the sports-heavy ages of 10-14 – I was a fanatic for all things Bills and Sabres. When I wasn’t playing sports, I was watching them; and when I wasn’t doing that, well, I was probably playing Super Tecmo Bowl, NHL 94, or Baseball Stars.

    Once high school hit and I discovered girls and snowboarding and music, I drifted away from my all-out sports enthusiasm. It wasn’t cool with my crowd, so I hid it some. Sure, we all went nuts during the ’99 Cup run during my senior year of high school, and I vividly remember watching the Immaculate Deception playoff game against the Titans in my dorm room freshman year of college, but I wasn’t the same all-out kind of fan as I was when I was little.

    But – and this is the point of all this long-winded reminiscing – I became a huge maniac sports fan again after 9/11. I was a junior at NYU and my dorm was only ten blocks away from the WTC. I was just 300 yards away from the first tower when it fell, and I had to run from smoke and ash. I won’t go into too much more detail about that awful day, but suffice to say I was evacuated out of the dorm for a week, and you could smell the burning until January. It was a nightmare; looking back, I definitely had a mild form of post-traumatic stress syndrome. I lost a lot of weight, had trouble being in small spaces, riding in a car. I was kind of a mess.

    The one thing that helped me through was sports. It was safe; it was meaningless – but yet it meant everything. When I was watching hockey or football, I was in a good place. It was something I could obsess about and fall deep into without consequence. No politics, no terror, just a game. Now, at 28, I’m the same kind of Bills and Sabres fan I was when I was 8. I can talk to anybody – regardless of political affiliation or general worldview – for hours about hockey and football, and I love that.

    Sorry about the long comment. Great post, Kate.

  2. 2 Katebits August 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this comment capsworth- it’s an incredibly powerful testimony to sports! Thank you.

  3. 3 sallypants August 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I can definitely identify with that, capsworth. Sports are great for escaping. You also get a sort of automatic community that comes along with fandom. I like that!

    Kate, have you ever been to a soccer match in another country? Sometimes they need riot cops to keep the fans apart! Those rivalries put ours to shame!

  4. 4 Grrrreg August 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Yeah sallypants, I was about to make a comment about soccer too. Given the appalling incidents that took place over the years around soccer games, and the omnipresence of soccer in Europe, I’m afraid I’m not really able to see sports as a violence-free zone… It’s mostly violence-free, but unfortunately not always.

  5. 5 CrotchetyOriginalSam August 24, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Worst sporting event I ever went to was a Twins game I was invited to with a bunch of baseball bloggers. The guy next to me spent the whole game talking up his personal political philosophy, which as best as I could gather was basically Center-Right Ultra-Libertarian Retard. I made a half-hearted attempt to steer the discussion towards anything but politics, then spent the rest of the game exchanging eye-rolls with the woman on my other side. I hate people who don’t understand the politics-stay-outside-the-turnstiles rule…

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