Politics and Football: Why Our Blind Allegiance to One Team Can Ruin the Whole Game

With football season and the Republican/Democratic primaries in full swing, conversations about politics and football are everywhere and it’s hard to stay out of the discussions. This got me thinking about the similarities between football and politics.

In football, everyone cheers for their own team and thinks regardless of how bad they are or how they are doing they are the best!

Some have been cheering for that team since they were young and saw their parents cheering for them and never thought much of it. They became fans simply because their parents where fans of that team.

Some discovered their team later in life or in the college years when sports becomes more important to social activities but these favorite teams last with most of us for our lifetime and can’t be easily changed regardless of how well your team is doing or the opinions of others.

Growing up I had a few different teams that I rooted for as my dad was in the Navy and we moved around frequently. My parents were from upstate New York and many of those in the area were Buffalo Bills fans which became my first team.

Later we moved to Rhode Island and I became a New England Patriots fan but that didn’t last long as we moved to Spain and things changed.

When you live on a military base overseas things are a little different than life state-side and I can remember one team being the favorite team of most families living on the base. America’s Team was that team, the Dallas Cowboys!

Overseas there were not many games we could see in the 1970s as we were still receiving VHS tapes from friends to keep up with Greatest American Hero, but for some reason the one game we would see would be on Thanksgiving and it was always the Cowboys. So I became a fan and after my dad was stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. things were solidified when I lived in enemy territory – Redskin territory.

When I showed up to 5th grade at Chapel Square I can remember my new friends mocking me and telling me how stupid I looked in my blue and gray Cowboys t-shirts every time I wore them.

I soon found out that even when the Redskins or any of my friends’ teams were not doing well, they still thought their team was the best and no opinions could sway their minds. It doesn’t matter what your team’s record is or the point in the season, no other team can compare.

This happens even when your team is down or going through a rough patch. You can’t see how any other team can be ranked higher and don’t understand why everyone doesn’t like your team or appreciate them as you do. You simply can’t understand what’s wrong with everyone else.

Comparisons to Politics

When seeing some of the posts and “discussions” in the media and Facebook regarding any number of issues regarding politics or religion, I have seen a number of similarities between football and politics.

Similar to allegiance to a favorite football team, those who identify 'strongly' with either major party show this same blind allegiance to their party.

Chief among these similarities is the fact that once you have a mindset or certain set of beliefs, no amount of evidence will sway your opinion. Not to stereotype everyone in this same mold but that’s what I’ve witnessed and experienced.

Similar to allegiance to a favorite football team, those who identify “strongly” with either major party show this same blind allegiance to their party. It doesn’t matter what the issue is or how things are going, that’s their team and that’s where their allegiance lies.

Graduating from one of the largest Division I schools without a football team (George Mason University), I have a different viewpoint on college football for sure and like to think I can remain nonpartisan with most issues.

It’s for this reason I strongly identify with being an independent as I define myself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative or what some would call “a political unicorn.” Looking for solutions and embracing new ideas regardless of the origin is the way I like to think of my political ideology.

Back to Football…

Football you would think would be a little clearer cut with losing and winning records and statistics. It should be easier for the fans with teams with winning records to be the most vocal about their teams’ chances and those with losing records to agree and possibly even cheer for another team when there’s isn’t playing.

This simply doesn’t happen.

No middle ground is found and you typically don’t hear someone say about another team that they look great and should easily win. No, they just defend their own team and create reasons and arguments why the teams with better records aren’t so great and why their team is still in it.

I’m a Cowboy fan; they are 3-8 and don’t stand much of a chance at making the playoffs. I’m a realist and can see this even though my Sunday’s will now be ruined for the rest of the year.

I’m not going to start cheering for the Redskins or Giants but I’ve certainly realized and can understand that my team is not going to be in the Super Bowl and can appreciate the other teams left in the hunt for the Super Bowl.

Is this middle ground? Is this giving up on my feelings and passion regarding my team? No, I’m still as passionate about the Cowboys, but I am a realist and understand that it’s not their year and can see that another team is probably better suited to win this Super Bowl this year.

In order to stay in the conversation you choose a team, the team you dislike the least.
Where is the common ground in politics or religion? With opposing viewpoints on most issues it’s difficult for opposing sides to see any common ground or points of meaningful discussion and the conversations become filled with hatred and spite for the opposing view. There is simply no middle ground.

In football, in a way middle ground is watching the Super Bowl where millions of people around the world choose one of two teams and cheer for teams they normally wouldn’t.

The presidential election is the Super Bowl of politics and just as many Americans whose candidates didn’t make it to the final two, we choose a side and cheer for the one that for most of us we dislike the least. It’s the lesser of two evils.

Let’s face it… when your team isn’t in the Super Bowl, no other team can compare, but in order to stay in the conversation you choose a team, the team you dislike the least.

This is true with the presidential race as well. For most of us, no candidate meets every single criterion you would like in a candidate and you make a compromise by voting for the lesser of two evils. In a two-party system, there is no viable alternative and this choice must be made if you still want to be involved in the conversation.

Unfortunately, many who identify with one party or the other will only vote party line and can’t find a middle ground on any issues. Considering there are not many options but one of the lesser evils, you vote your party line.

Common Ground

After writing this I more deeply understand the allegiance to certain teams but what I still can’t grasp is the blind allegiance to political parties that don’t represent the majority of Americans or understand how we continue to have the same two teams in the Political Super Bowl each year. We need a viable third party that can be more representative of an American populace that has become frustrated with the partisan bickering and lining of lobbyists pockets in a corrupt political system.

We need leaders willing to fight for the common man and woman and free us all from political parties that care more about tearing each other down than lifting up the American people.

It’s time we come together, look for solutions to our challenges as a country and have discussions and debates that focus on issues and not parties or personalities. It’s only by putting country first that we can fight terrorism, tackle the national debt, balance the budget, secure our country’s borders and return to being the undisputed leading super power in the world.

To make this happen, it will probably take an act of terror as never seen before to truly galvanize America once again to meet these challenges we face. And it’s only when we can truly come together as a nation that we can tackle poverty in our own country, build our education system into one that’s world class, and modify our immigration policies to ensure our safety while welcoming a highly skilled workforce to help support our aging and declining workforce.

We can do this if we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. If we can’t come together as a nation for a common good and end the partisan infighting, we will no longer be the world’s last best hope for peace and prosperity and could possibly relinquish that title to China or Russia.

It’s a choice our leaders can make and regardless of what team you are cheering for, you owe it to yourself and your country to tell your elected officials that you are tired of nothing being accomplished and call for change.

Photo Source: AP