Friday, February 13, 2009

Politics & Athletic Commentary Don't Mix For Some People

Steve Hanaway of the Big Red Network angered a few Republicans with a quip about a recruit earlier this week:
"To quote George W. Bush, Kevin Young is a “flip-flopper”. And America so dislikes flip-floppers, that we re-elected the worst president in U.S. history just to keep one out of office."
The fact that he also took a shot at Senator John Kerry in the same sentence was lost on a few right-wingers, who are obviously still smarting over the November election. I got a similar reaction last November, when I used a variant of a Barack Obama campaign slogan to state that I still thought Bo Pelini was doing a good job, despite the complete butt-whipping Oklahoma served up on Nebraska the day before.

Politics, religion, and our sports teams are three things in life we all believe in passionately...and in the process, sometimes fail to keep an open mind about. Certainly ESPN learned that the hard way when they inserted Rush Limbaugh into their Sunday morning NFL preview show. That was on purpose, hoping to stoke some controversy into the show, but many left-wing sports fans took offense, calling for a boycott of ESPN before he ever took to the air. (Of course, El Rushbo only lasted four weeks, resigning after denigrating Donovan McNabb.)

In this society, we like to associate with people of a same mind: Husker fans associating with other Husker fans, ridiculing Colorado fans. Republicans associating with other Republicans, demonizing Democrats. But what happens when two Husker fans start talking about the Colorado/Colorado State game, which took place on the same field where Barack Obama accepted the presidential nomination a few days earlier. Over at CornNation, CornBlight and I were doing our first predictions of the season against the backdrop of Obama's speech. I wondered what effect Obama's speech would have on the playing field, but CornBlight proceeded to take a few shots at the Democrats instead:
Corn Blight: Colorado State at Colorado in Denver.
Husker Mike: I have no Hawk love
Corn Blight: This game is interesting because of the high probabiity of riot.
Husker Mike: What will that field look like after being covered for Obama the last week or so.That's half the fun of this game.
Corn Blight: Made even worse because you know there will still be tons of anarchists who have discovered Boulder for the first time. The hippies will be more stoned, the punksters more enthused. Could be wild.
Corn Blight: Colorado 31, CSU 24
Corn Blight: 15 Arrests, 3 people hospitalized.
Husker Mike: Rams 23, Buffies 21, Denver Police 38
Corn Blight: We're assuming that they can scoop that much bullshit out of Denver before the game. Maybe it'll be postponed on account of a flash crap flood.
Now, I joined in with making fun of Colorado and Colorado State fans rioting, but I let the Democratic bashing slide. Maybe I was a little more tolerant in that case; maybe I didn't just didn't want to get into a political debate that night. But in a different mood, maybe I wouldn't have been so tolerant of politics interjecting themselves into the athletic world.

Certainly I know that people of all political backgrounds visit this blog. There have been people who agree with my opinions on football, but are 180 degrees to me politically. Likewise, some folks disagree with me rather strongly on sports, but are probably pretty close to me in their political views.

That's the great thing about America. Everybody has an opinion, and everybody has the right to express their opinion in a reasonable form. And while I agree with you on one issue, we might be bitterly in opposition on another. Welcome to America.

That also means we need to be a little more tolerant of others opinions. If you let someone's political opinion taint your reaction to someone's opinion on athletics, you need to take a step back. That doesn't mean that you have to agree with the politics, but rather, you need to be able to accept those politics. Sarah Palin's UNO hockey jersey has no bearing on the Mavs or on my opinion of Alaska's governor.

Likewise, when someone refers to George W. Bush as the "worst president ever", you don't have to agree with it (or like it), but you do need to accept that it's a viewpoint held by many people in a position to make that assessment. Just like Husker fans had to accept that shellacking by Missouri this season. (Things got better, wouldn't you say?)

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