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.