I once heard that the most popular sports in America are the National Football League (NFL) and its off-season. Yes, the time in between NFL seasons is more popular than other sports. Being a devout Baltimore Ravens fan, I can understand this.
As soon as the season is over, I start looking to next year to see which players are leaving, retiring, and which young players are progressing. I wonder how Baltimore can get better and win more games next season. And I’m not alone in playing this never-ending game of football.
Recently I’ve begun to see similarities with politics. I’ve seen bumper stickers that read, ‘Is it 2012 yet?’ They started turning up the moment Obama took office. Long before the last election I saw bumper stickers that read ‘Is it 2008 yet?’ And you bet you will see ‘Is it 2016 yet?’ bumper stickers come Nov. 7. Doesn’t matter who wins, they’ll be there.
With the presidential election less than two months away and the Super Bowl nearly three months after that, teams are preparing their players for the fight ahead. Both Democrats and Republicans, donkeys and elephants, the blue team and the red team, game plan by looking for weaknesses in their opponents to understand what will help them win. After all, the goal is to win seats in the federal, state and local governments. In football, your goal is to win every game, any advantage helps.
Each year the election season grows longer, and with that politicians, through each cycle, focus less on their job and more on trying to keep their job, trying to win that game and stay on top.
In order to stay on top, elected officials then have to spend more of their time trying gain that advantage by out raising and spending their opponent.
The stakes get higher every four years with each party trying to out do the other. It’s like an arms race. Each side raises the bar a little bit every cycle. They raise more money, campaign earlier, have more debates, and post more signs, ads, and bumper stickers.
It reminds me of steroids in sports. Each athlete tries to out perform the other to gain that slight advantage and win the race. But by the end of the day, there is not much time left over to govern and work together.
Like I said, I am a diehard Baltimore fan and I’ll confess that I’m a registered Democrat. While I have never cheered for Pittsburgh, I have voted for Republicans.
I was heartbroken when the Republicans didn’t nominate longtime Maryland Representative Wayne Gilchrest in 2008. Since then we’ve had two bad Representatives: one Democrat, one Republican.
Point being, Ravens and Steelers fans don’t have to get along. They can hate each other year round and it’s all part of the game. Democrats and Republicans, they have to get along; they have to work together; they can’t keep playing and building on this never-ending election cycle.
The big difference between the Super Bowl and the Presidential election is the Super Bowl is the ending, the pinnacle of accomplishment.
The election is only the beginning. When you win an election it’s the same as being hired for a job, but today, it’s treated like winning the race.
Rose O’Neill Literary House