Politicians as players

I agree with Jared Taylor's contempt for the Super Bowl.  But I did watch part of it – and realized how much I envy the fans.

There are many parallels between professional sports and politics.  Instead of fighting their own battles, the inhabitants of a city (or state) hire players to fight for them.  The players are not necessarily natives of the city or particularly loyal to it; they have their own personal goals and will switch allegiances if it’s to their advantage.  Competition for each job is fierce, and there’s always a crowd of young contenders trying to unseat the incumbents.  Contracts are reviewed periodically, and a player may lose his job if he does not seem to perform satisfactorily.

But there the resemblance ends.  Games are played out in the open, with crowds of spectators, so that it’s impossible for a poor player to hide his blunders.  In contrast, the game of politics often takes place behind closed doors.  The public is keenly aware of an athlete’s performance statistics but easily forgets or is distracted from considering a politician’s track record.  The media may idolize an athlete for a while, but sooner or later his real value becomes obvious.  But in politics, as Vance Packard noted a half century ago, manufactured “image” is more powerful than real worth.

One difference is particularly disturbing.  A game is, after all, just a game.  However unhappy the fan of a losing team may feel, he is really none the worse for it; he can always look forward to the next game.  But the game of politics is often for keeps; a citizen may find that his pet politician has irrevocably ruined his future.  That’s why I envy the football fans.

I agree with Jared Taylor's contempt for the Super Bowl.  But I did watch part of it – and realized how much I envy the fans.

There are many parallels between professional sports and politics.  Instead of fighting their own battles, the inhabitants of a city (or state) hire players to fight for them.  The players are not necessarily natives of the city or particularly loyal to it; they have their own personal goals and will switch allegiances if it’s to their advantage.  Competition for each job is fierce, and there’s always a crowd of young contenders trying to unseat the incumbents.  Contracts are reviewed periodically, and a player may lose his job if he does not seem to perform satisfactorily.

But there the resemblance ends.  Games are played out in the open, with crowds of spectators, so that it’s impossible for a poor player to hide his blunders.  In contrast, the game of politics often takes place behind closed doors.  The public is keenly aware of an athlete’s performance statistics but easily forgets or is distracted from considering a politician’s track record.  The media may idolize an athlete for a while, but sooner or later his real value becomes obvious.  But in politics, as Vance Packard noted a half century ago, manufactured “image” is more powerful than real worth.

One difference is particularly disturbing.  A game is, after all, just a game.  However unhappy the fan of a losing team may feel, he is really none the worse for it; he can always look forward to the next game.  But the game of politics is often for keeps; a citizen may find that his pet politician has irrevocably ruined his future.  That’s why I envy the football fans.