Why I Left Politics For Football

Published on: October 25, 2012 | Written by: johnlepine

In my final two years of high school, I was an avid devotee of the long campaign season of the Republican and Democratic primary elections. I did have a horse in the race—albeit a horse of jettest black hair—so while I wore shirts and buttons and held signs and donated money, I would have been quickly burned out if not for the sheer fun of speculation and competition:

“Can Romney recover from losing Iowa?”

“Will Edwards try cutting some sort of deal with Clinton or Obama?”

“Does Huckabee have any appeal outside of the Bible Belt?”

“How about those super-delegates, huh?”

But in between this election and that, a new love stole my heart away from politics. She found her way to my heart through my mind. I was helpless to resist.

Football, you see, appeals to me in much the same way that politics once did. Politics arouse my instinct for justice, but so does a healthy debate about the BCS post-season and a hypothetical playoff.

The competitive fire of politics called me to tune into many a TV debate, but differences of opinion flow just as freely on SportsCenter (with Lou Holtz as Ron Paul, except nuttier).

Instead of guessing who will win the New Hampshire primary, I now jaw about who deserves a BCS bid. Should a one-loss SEC team get priority over an undefeated Kansas State? The question captivates me more than the significance of a win in the Iowa straw poll.

But why, if politics and football share much of the same attraction, did I bother to divorce my first love and invest so much time learning the ways of a new idol? Could I not have been content to stay married to politics, keeping football as my weekend mistress?

No, I could not wait for politics. A presidential election every four years? I have needs—needs that football satisfies four times as often as politics.

But more than that, I could not abide the diseases that politics carries. Yes, football has her flaws—a little corruption (Ohio State), some criminal history (Miami), a touch of greed (BCS). But what is unattractive in football is ten times more pronounced in politics. She is corrupt from head to toe, has no standards whatsoever and lets nothing rule her more than unbridled covetousness.

She is violent and abusive. Whether you love her or not, she will beat and bind you with her laws and police and wiretaps and zoning codes and regulations. With football, a difference of opinion usually boils down to sentiment and regional affection. With politics, every disagreement is deadly serious; she will not let you agree to disagree. One point of view will prevail over the other, with all the force of the justice system brought to bear on the losing opinion.

I left politics for football because my life goes on just the same whether or not my team wins or loses, while politics continues to impact my life in real, usually negative ways. I left politics for football because I like speculating about whether Florida is better than Alabama more than whether I will be ruled by the greedy slimeball or the self-important fool. I left politics for football because there are better ways to fix the world than through politics, and there are more fun things to enjoy.

So forget the polling booth. I'll see you at the game.

US President Gerald Ford played center and linebacker for the Michigan Wolverines, participating in two national title-winning seasons and becoming the only US President to ever tackle a future Heisman winner when he brought down Chicago's Jay Berwanger in 1934.

The Green Bay Packers contacted future US Senator Ted Kennedy to play professionally after his career as an offensive and defensive end with the Harvard Crimson. Kennedy turned down the Packers, saying he planned to "go into another contact sport: politics."