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Are You Ready for Some Football? (As In, Are You Ready for A Public Option?)

On Tuesday, the biggest story of the day was whether the public option had officially come out of retirement.  Last week, after President Obama downplayed its importance as just a “sliver” of healthcare reform, the public option had all but cleaned out its locker.  Political pundits immediately jumped on the story, claiming that the White House was “ready to drop [the] public option” and that Obama had “killed” it.  (The killing was all done with the blessing of the death panel, of course.)

On Tuesday, however, the public option made a comeback.  Robert Gibbs told press correspondents that Obama indeed “prefers a public option” and that it’s still a “priority.”   Sixty House Democrats sent Kathleen Sebelius a love letter,  imploring her to save the public option.  Even Howard Dean made the rounds, saying that reform would not be possible without it… Yeeeaaaah!

Given the denials, the backpedaling, and all the ups and downs, polls show that Americans are getting sick of this talk.  We just want to know what will happen next.

favreWell, here is where a Brett Favre analogy can help.  Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback specializing in football and flippy floppies.  He retired from the Green Bay Packers in March 2008, un-retired in August 2008 to play for the Jets, re-retired from the Jets in February 2009, and then un-re-retired just yesterday, announcing his intention to play for the Vikings.

With the public option, we’ve already done the retirement waffle dance.  Now, it’s gametime.  If we follow the Brett Favre Story, then we have a few more months of “will they” or “won’t they.”  Once it’s decided upon that the public option will be included in the healthcare bill, it’ll keep things close… but in the end, it will ultimately fold under pressure.  It will naturally stay in the pocket too long, get kicked around by angry Republicans clawing for a win in 2010, and toss up an ill-timed pass into coverage that will get intercepted by a watered-down bill of “reform.”  Then, defeated once again, the public option shall retire to a field of diminutive co-ops, rising healthcare costs, and Wrangler jeans, forever reminiscing about the days of Obamacare and greener pastures by the bay.

It may be a stretch… but Favre did throw 22 interceptions last year.  This won’t end well.

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Why Red Sox Nation Loves A-Rod

They say that when you grow up in Boston, it’s in your blood. It seeps into your mind, your heart, and your soul. There is no denying it, and there is no cure. In life, you may change jobs, political affiliations, or even genders, but you will always, always be a Boston Red Sox fan.

The Red Sox are an institution in Boston. This is a city that bleeds red in October. It is a city that jams thirty-thousand-plus people into a green concrete box on game days. It is a city that goes crazy when the Sox win, and self-immolates when the Sox lose. If you were walking the streets of Boston today, and asked a stranger about the three happiest moments of his life, the first two would be some variation of the typical answer: when my children were born, owning my first home, the day of my wedding, the day of my divorce, etc. However, the third happiest moment would likely be repeated by most everyone you meet: the “Sawx” winning the 2004 World Series. Seriously: everyone. Or at least 90%.

But even though us Boston fans are undoubtedly consumed by our sports teams, this fanaticism isn’t limited to Massholes. In fact, there are some places that may even be worse. After all, grown men wear dresses and pig snouts to support the Redskins in Washington. Detroit fans help out their basketball team by sucker punching opposing players. And infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman received death threats before he was forced into hiding… all because he interfered with a foul ball.

Some might think that our country’s infatuation with sports is strange: you have millions of people on the edge of their seats, fixating over an event they can’t control, with participants they don’t really know, in a game they’ve probably never played. Even though we may give ourselves credit for our team’s victory (“during the whole game, I didn’t move my right arm, because the last time I did, Favre threw an interception”)… really, telekinesis has yet to hit NFL playbooks.

So why are we so obsessed? Why do we set aside our Sundays, neglect our work, and force our arms to go numb? Why do we let two-point conversions and last-second threes and outcomes (over which we have no control) impact our mood?

Why do we allow the fate of a foul ball decide how homicidal we want to be today?

Well, what else is there to do? I’d rather watch a baseball game than turn on the news to another bank bailout. I’d prefer to fill out my brackets than pore over my shrinking 401(k). The country needs a diversion right about now, however minor or fleeting it may be. We need sports now more than ever before.

a-rodFortunately, there are some among us who recognize this, and have stepped up to go above and beyond their vocation. To Alex Rodriguez: your recent revelations (of steroid use, of infidelity, of loving yourself a little too much) have not only distracted us from the dire financial crisis, but they have also reinforced all of New England’s fervor for baseball. For as it is with the symbiotic nature of sports, loving the Sox is also about inherently hating the Yankees. And it’s pretty easy to hate on the Yanks these days… I mean, come on: just look in the mirror.

Part of this post was excerpted from a previous post by the same author, from September 17, 2008: “I’m Voting for the Candidate Who Agrees That the Yankees Suck”

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I’m Voting for the Candidate Who Agrees that the Yankees Suck

They say that when you grow up in Boston, it’s in your blood. It seeps into your mind, your heart, and your soul. There is no denying it, and there is no cure. In life, you may change jobs, political affiliations, or even genders, but you will always, always be a Boston Red Sox fan.

The Red Sox are an institution in Boston. This is a city that bleeds red in October. It is a city that jams thirty-thousand-plus people into a green concrete box on game days. It is a city that goes crazy when the Red Sox win, and self-immolates when the Red Sox lose. If you were walking the streets of Boston today, and asked a stranger about the three happiest moments of his life, the first two would be some variation of the typical answer: when my children were born, owning my first home, the day of my wedding, the day of my divorce, etc. However, the third happiest moment would likely be repeated by most everyone you meet: the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series. Seriously: everyone. Or at least 90%.

But even though us Boston fans are undoubtedly consumed by our sports teams, this fanaticism isn’t limited to Massholes. In fact, there are some places that may even be worse. After all, grown men wear dresses and pig snouts to support the Redskins in Washington. Detroit fans help out their basketball team by sucker punching opposing players. And infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman received death threats before he was forced into hiding… all because he interfered with a foul ball.

Some might think that our country’s infatuation with sports is strange: you have millions of people on the edge of their seats, fixating over an event they can’t control, with participants they don’t really know, in a game they’ve probably never played. Even though we may give ourselves credit for our team’s victory (“during the whole game, I didn’t move my right arm, because the last time I did, Favre threw an interception”)… really, telekinesis has yet to hit NFL playbooks.

So why are we so obsessed? Why do we set aside our Sundays, neglect our work, and force our arms to go numb? Why do we let two-point conversions and last-second threes and outcomes (over which we have no control) impact our mood? Why do we allow the fate of a foul ball decide how homicidal we want to be today?

Much of it has to do with the sense of community that comes with being a sports fan. Our teams serve as a common thread between fans, an easy conversation starter, and a way for us to showcase our townie pride and bash on our rivals. Our allegiances also grow stronger if there is a common enemy: for Bostonians, we collectively cringe when Peyton Manning’s 17th commercial comes on, and we all agree that the Yankees do indeed, suck. The rivalry is what makes is interesting, and it’s what draws us to our teams even more.

Finally, I’d like to go off on a somewhat-related tangent: As November nears, all of us will be forced to choose allegiances in another competition between opposing rivals. In this contest, however, the implications are far worse than a weekly depression because the Dolphins lost again. Instead, we have to wait four years to turn this one around. And while we eagerly anticipate the next Sox game at Fenway, our engagement with the upcoming election is minimal, at best. Not too many people plan on packing the bars to watch the debates. Not too many anticipate dressing up as a gun-toting book Nazi to support their favorite Russia expert. Very few people are on the edge of their seats.

So, a suggestion: As sports are so popular, let’s try it with politics. For this election, let’s get some form-fitting red and blue jerseys, and see how well our candidates do under pressure. How are Obama’s skills on the basketball court? Can Palin can shoot a moose with a bow and arrow? The ultimate decider could be an American Gladiators course, the true test of patriotism and strength. I want to see Biden battling it out with Siren. I want to see Palin jousting with Mayhem. I want to see McCain get lit up by Justice. If this doesn’t get people interested in the election… well, at least they’ll have football on Sundays to get them through the next four years.

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