The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Day and Sports

Election Day in the US is very much like the Super Bowl in pro football. It's the day when the game of politics determines its ultimate winners and losers, and no one (usually) disputes the final score. But it's actually more like a few other major sporting events than that. In fact, you can find similarities between American elections and several other major sport championships.

The most obvious is the Olympic games, especially in the two major areas that are similar to politics: intervals between their occurrence and number of contests to be won. In a way, the Olympics are an even better metaphor, because the competitor usually has to qualify by winning an Olympic time trial or pre-tournament, just to get to the games themselves.

The game of politics and lawmaking, however, has similarities to other sports. The actual day-in, day-out drudgery of legislation is a lot like baseball – a long season, a lot of winning and losing streaks, coupled with some individual bad moments that can have a lingering effect on the final result. The politician is a lot like the NBA, where a relatively small group of people play a very strange game for what they perceive is a majority of the people. Most of it, though, is made-up glamour and self importance.

The electorate is even similar to a major sport: hockey. Every so often, there's a lot of people who actually care about what is going on to go and vote – but not as many as those who don't. It also tends to be regionally skewed, one way or another – like higher voter turnouts in particular parts of a state or even the entire country.

In the end, the game is a difficult one to master – somewhat like hockey. It can be physically demanding, like football. It can also be a long, drawn out process – like baseball. I won't go into the "special abilities" similarity to basketball, because that's too easy of a shot.

The sports analogy helps a bit when your "side" is defeated soundly in an election, as you realize that there's always another contest coming up in the next few years. And, the party that lost the previous election has plenty of time to poke holes in the performance of the other side by the next election.