We're Much Better as Sports Fans Than as Voters. Why?

Article excerpt

SPORTS AND POLITICS:

Whenever I hear sports fans on talk radio or personally chat with people about sportsboth spectator and participatory games-the depth and breadth of the conversations are not surprising. As a teenaged fan, I knew the batting averages of most of the players in the American League.

This mental diligence, however, does not carry over into most people's role as voters. Compare the differences:

1. Sports fans do their homework. They know the statistics of the players and teams and are deeply involved in analyzing strategies and tactics on the playing field. To them the game is a study, not a hunch or knee-jerk reaction. The looks, smiles, big salaries and rhetoric of the players mean nothing unless they are based on performance. Fans also look forward, thinking about foreseeing and forestalling the opposing team's adjustments and responses. The same cannot be said about most voters. Half of them do ' not even know the name of their elected representative. Half of them do not even come to the "game" on Election Day to support their "team" or register their opinion.

2. Fans hold the hierarchy responsible-from the players to the umpires or referees, to the coaches, managers, and owners. Voters, on the other hand, have allowed top-down forms of no-fault government. This is true even when votes are not counted properly or elections are stolen. Elected political leaders are rarely held accountable for their most serious boondoggles, failures, or wrongheaded policies. Smiles and rhetoric go a long way on the popularity index in contrast to scrutinizing their actual voting records. At election time their performance in office is forgotten while their campaign propaganda sways uninformed voters.

3. Fans analyze reasons for victory or defeat, not just on what happened in the ninth inning or in the last few minutes of the final quarter. They understand that the seeds of winning or losing are planted throughout the whole game. Voters just look at the final voting count at the end of Election Day. As a result, they miss the dynamics before elections to understand what were the influential factors.

4. Fans evaluate the dual performance of the teams-both offensive and defensive. They know that both who made it happen and who let it happen are keys to understanding the game. They know when a team beats itself. Voters almost always focus on which party or elected officials proposed or supported a law or policy. Rarely do they criticize their favourite party for not trying hard enough to block bad bills. …