Football is a welcome antidote to the poison of politics

Jim Redwine

“The crisp autumn air. The dry brown grass. Sweaty pads and the exhilaration of combat without weapons. The kind of battle where one can experience the thrill of having been shot at and missed without even being shot at. Football. Ersatz war. Clashes of pride, power and cunning.”

"Echoes Of Our Ancestors: The Secret Game", p. vii, by James M. Redwine

Baseball may be America’s Pastime, but football is America’s Passion. The only thing more endemic to the American psyche than football is politics, and I am sick of politics. If, “politics ain’t bean bag,” it ought to be. Any sporting event from ballet to boxing is healthier for our country than political conventions and cable news. Heck, even a good old-fashioned fist fight often results in lifelong friendship, versus contemporary political campaigns in which social media is used much as smallpox was allegedly used against Native Americans by the British colonial soldiers in 1763.

The difference between sporting contests of all types and modern national politics is glaring. When I think back to those times my erstwhile adversaries became my current friends via a skirmish over some forgotten controversy, I long for those days. My friends and I spent no time accusing one another of being a liar or a murderer or even a traitor to our country. We would just drop our baseball gloves or kick our opponent’s marbles out of the way and start the shoving process.

Every now and then we would even throw a punch. I will not name those who bloodied my nose or tore off my T-shirts, but we buried our hypothetical hatchets immediately after each fray. Our politicians and news anchors could learn something.

Another thing we learn from sports versus politics is that the pain of physical injuries almost always goes away, whereas the sickness of false comments can grow fatal to our body politic. There is something liberating from a sweaty fight or a sweaty game. But often permanent harm results from accusations of venality and planted stories of misdeeds.

Anyway, I am glad football and other games are coming back and I hope we will soon be able to engage in them and/or enjoy watching them in good health. I leave it up to each community and every individual to decide whether they feel comfortable participating in or watching in person any sporting event.

Peg and I certainly want the right and ability to decide such highly personal matters for ourselves, and we will afford the same right to others. However, the lessons from sports are easily learned and, unlike high school Algebra, one will always remember them. In fact, as I think of the fist fights and sporting contests I engaged in it now seems to me I never lost and I have gotten a lot faster, stronger and more talented as the years have transpired.