Football embodies democratic government ideals
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 01:10
This past Sunday I had the honor and privilege to join hundreds of thousands of people across the country in what has become one of the greatest and most exhilarating moments in any American’s life; attending a live National Football League game.
A ticket costs more than I make in a month in my on-campus job and I may no longer be able to look at a potato knish the same way; they were the complimentary gift to the fans in our section.
While sitting in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, after watching Eli Manning connect with Victor Cruz for the game-winning touchdown to beat the Washington Redskins, I reflected on how football has become an integral part of the American democratic culture.
The 2012 Superbowl featuring the New York Giants and Boston’s own New England Patriots set the television record, drawing in 111.3 million viewers, for the third year in a row.
To put that number in perspective, that is more viewers then the first two presidential, plus the vice presidential campaign debates combined.
The question must be asked: How did a such a game whose violence may be the cause of severe depression, anxiety and numerous attempted suicides of former players due to repeated undocumented concussions, become such a classic American pastime? What is so attractive to us about giant, yet remarkably athletic men throwing themselves at each other, chasing a leather oval-shaped ball around a field?
Perhaps the answer lies in the structure of a successful football team. A team’s compilation is remarkably similar to how a democratic society should ideally function.
After all what is more American than democracy.
The sport of football has an inherent cooperative nature. Football is not a sport that can be won by a single player; it is the collective effort of all 53 players, the numerous coaches and athletic trainers.
Each player must have the good of the team in mind in order to be successful. Those players looking for impressive statistics and personal records simply do not succeed in the league. You can have all the talent in the world and fail without the proper mind-set and, more importantly, the proper team around you. A balanced team is almost always more successful then a team of flashy skill players.
Likewise, each football team is like a functional democratic society. Each indivdual player has the responsibility to follow the lead of, and help, those players with larger roles on the team. The quarterback must have the proper protection from the offensive line, the offensive line needs the skill positions to play a certain speed and the skill positions need the quarterback to get them the ball.
And, of course, all units are under the discretion of the leaders, the coaches, who decipher exactly which play-call allows each unit to play effectively.
The United States is no different. Every segment of the democracy has a certain responsibility that can only be achieved if, and only if, every other part of the democracy does their respected part. We as citizens have the right and responsibility to vote for our best personal interests. We elect politicians on all levels of government that ideally coincide with our personal agenda.
However, that is dependent on politicians running on platforms that express the views of many, hence the need for multiple political parties. If there were only one candidate, it would be impossible for agenda of the masses to take form.
A single player, no matter how talented, cannot win a game on his own. A politician cannot, and will not, be successful in office without the cooperation of his team, comprised of both his constituents and fellow politicians.
Too often throughout the country, politicians are elected on charisma and rhetoric. Pure political talent does not cut it.
For any democratic government to be successful, the agendas of the citizens, individual representatives and Congress as a whole must be in unison.
Only then can the platform chosen by the masses, and by extension in the best interest of all involved, be put in place.
It is impossible for a quarterback to win a game without the rest of his team. Likewise, it is impossible for any politician to succeed without his constituents and fellow politicians working in unison.
Take the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles on paper are arguably the most talented team in the league, yet they failed to make the playoffs last year, let alone the Superbowl. The Eagles players were constantly fixated on the preseason hype, not the task at hand. It was impossible for the team to succeed without all members striving for the same goal.
To quote former President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid sports fan, from his early days in office, “In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is, hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard.” The strategic plan for any football team is predicated on playing a hard-fought, physical and mistake free game.
This holds true for our government. In today’s day and age, where we are surrounded by bickering politicians, a financial system standing on thin ice due to excessive personal agendas, unprecedented foreign policy danger in a nuclear Iran and social issues from gay marriage to abortion, we must remember those lessons from our favorite sport.
Every single member of a representative democracy needs to “play hard” in order for the government to be successful. We must look past what looks like insurmountable issues and remember it is precisely the combination of opinions and issues that makes this country great.
Only with this balance can we assemble that Superbowl team around our star quarterback; the next president.