FD Guest Lecture: Chucks and Balances

Tom Ziller, moved by the convention:

Of course sports fans love politics. It's all competitive drama. Winners and losers, strategy and second-guessing. Opinions, data. Sean Hannity, Joe Morgan. Isiah Thomas, Mark Penn. 50-state strategy, West Coast offense. Spike Lee wearing the UNDRCRWN Obama tee, Brad Miller holding up a bag of X-Box games and FD shirt. Same arenas, same goals, different uniforms.

But as we devoted basketball partisans know, all sports are not created equal. Following the NFL is an impossibly different task than being a fan of baseball or the NBA. It's the same with politics: there are distinct divisions between certain sectors.

Presidential politics: NBA

A league of stars and style. [Barack/LeBron, Carter/Wade, Monroe/Mikan] A history filled with very specific, seminal moments. Ebbs and flows during the campaign. Defined set of names that matter, with the occasional surprise uprising. The main character seeks specific complements [Kobe/Kidd, McCain/Lieberman]. Lots of spectacle. Obama at the convention in '04 : LeBron, Game 5; Hillary at the convention tonight : Kobe in the fourth against Spain. (Note: Olbermann's first words after the speech: "Grand slam." I would have went with "Dagger!" or "Bang!" or even "YES!" Damn, Keith.)

Congressional/Senate politics: NFL

It can all change every two years. No stability. Obsession necessary to understand depth of the game. [53-man roster, gerrymandered seats] Extremely localized. Salary cap, campaign finance. Heavyweights shatter all the time. [Shaun Alexander, Tom DeLay] Some just won't go away. [Favre, Helms] Plenty of unassailable elder statesmen [Troy Brown, Dianne Feinstein] and young eager pups [Jim Webb, Adrian Peterson].

State politics: College football

Brian Schweitzer is Darren McFadden!

Judicial politics: MLB

The casual observer doesn't care until someone blows [John Roberts, Tim Lincecum]. Minor players have tremendous impact [Dave Roberts, some cat in the Ninth Circuit]. Endless names in the system, on the bench. Full of red-asses at the highest level [Red Sox, SCOTUS]. Ingrained anger to new ideas. Obvious bias despite assertions to the contrary [non-partisan offices, strike zones]. Steeped in odd tradition. Totally anti-celebration.

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At 8/27/2008 2:30 AM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

Usually these sports analogy posts (Which SEC team is which Simpsons character?!) are ridiculous, but Ziller, I was feeling you on this one.

wrt: "I would have went with "Dagger!" or "Bang!" or even "YES!" Damn, Keith."

Hubie Brown would be the best pundit, especially if he could comment mid-speech. "Now that is nice. What you need to do now is run your stuff *old guy voice crack*"

Or maybe Mark Jackson talking about stepping into a rhythm speech, making plays at both ends of the stage? Get in my poster, John McCain?

At 8/27/2008 2:37 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

The original one of these that doesn't suck.

At 8/27/2008 4:29 AM, Blogger D.J. Foster said...

The Auburn/ Kanye West one killed me. So true. Great link.

At 8/27/2008 8:42 AM, Blogger Ziller said...

I stopped doing these for the most part when I first saw that sexy-results post. Too good.

I forgot: Dennis Kucinich was so Pargo last night. I'm shocked he didn't actually burst into flames at the end.

These people questioning Hillary's speech ("she didn't say this or that -- is she angling for 2012?!?!") are the same pundits who asked whether Kobe should've passed more when he scored 81.

At 8/27/2008 8:59 AM, Blogger themarkpike said...

Ha. Except Gov. Brian Schweitzer (aka Bolo Tha Don) isn't in the House or the Senate. State politics. NCAA? Hence the Darren McFadden reference?

At 8/27/2008 10:18 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Tom is falsely modest on this count.

At 8/27/2008 10:42 AM, Blogger tjk said...

If Obama is LeBron, does that mean that Hillary is Kobe.

Obama/LeBron the new vaunted hope who manages to live up to his hype too early. Hillary/Kobe the cold, cerebral tactician who comes off as kind of a jerk, has no capacity to accept defeat, and seems to put people off even if they cannot deny the overwhelming skills. Also LeBron/Obama as the new heir to the throne/savior that Kobe/Hillary was originally supposed to mean.

The more I think about it the more I convince myself.

(For the record I'm a Obama fan as well as a Kobe fan, so I'm not sure if that influenced the analogy in any way)

At 8/27/2008 12:35 PM, Blogger Ziller said...

Thanks themark, I flubbed that one. I don't know why I always think of Schweitzer as the sole crazy Senator. That dude is so college football.

Arnold Schwarzenegger : Nick Saban
Eliot Spitzer : Rick Neuheisel
Charlie Crist : Pete Carroll

At 8/27/2008 12:51 PM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...

That Josh Smith phantasm isn't only disconcerting to Bill.

At 8/27/2008 1:40 PM, Blogger Penny said...

@Dj Foster.

Unfortunately, that Kanye one is not that true (he did not have a disappointing followup); seeing that I can't go anywhere without seeing these: http://www.sneakerrehab.com/site/images/uploads/kanye_glasses.JPG

At 8/27/2008 2:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Incidentally, a Biden speechwriter just made a Magic/Kareem comparison for the ticket on NPR


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