Why do we treat politics like it’s a sport?
Although political gridlock and polarization in the United States have reached a level never seen before, politics has only become more popular. Every day, tens of millions of Americans tune in as they hear the latest political buzz from their favorite candidates, elected officials, T.V. news, media publications, and political commentators.
This hyper fixation and fandom over the U.S. political arena has turned the American Government into something more closely akin to a popular sport than the representative legislative, administrative, and judicial body it is designed to be.
In all sports, fans have their favorite teams, players, coaches, analysts, shows, and so on. It does not matter how bad a franchise is from one year to the next; fans still obsess over them.
Once an individual has chosen their favorite team, the probability of them switching teams in their lifetime is incredibly small. Fans create rivalries, trash talk other teams, and find a plethora of “data” to support the competitiveness of their franchise as they argue with one another.
Every day, hundreds of sports commentators, writers, and analysts, try to come up with new and enticing headlines to publish on the sports circuit. And unfortunately, due to a continual publication schedule, many writers and commentators end up saying the same things repetitively if something new does not happen for a while.
Generally, most of what sportscasters say proves to be nothing more than blind conjecture, and often, sports analytics prove wrong. That is because it is virtually impossible to make accurate predictions where humans are concerned; humans are not machines with set calculatable characteristics.
In the most recent 2022 NBA Finals, one of the most prestigious and followed pollsters, 538, released analytics that said the Boston Celtics had as high as an 88% chance of beating the Golden State Warriors. Still, that prediction ended up being completely wrong.
The modern U.S. political era has taken a form very similar to that of sports culture.
Politics and sports have both become multi-billion-dollar industries. The only difference between the two is that in sports, people have dozens of teams to choose from; however, in U.S. politics, Americans are primarily forced to choose between two.
Every day the media wave is pummeled with a never-ending stream of political conjecture that ranges between well thought out political theory to ramblings about how one of the two political parties is an immoral vassal of chaos and doom.
Instead of being public servants, politicians now carry a similar prestige to athletes in sports. Nowadays, most people have a list of their favorite politicians who they believe will ultimately “win the day” for their “team.”
Political commentators such as Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, Stephen Crowder, or any late-night host make millions of dollars annually by releasing their hot takes on political issues, which often only fuel the narrative that one party is inherently evil while the other is generally fighting for good.
“Fans” of politics eagerly watch out for new “up and coming” political stars and spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year attending rallies, donating to campaigns, and buying candidate and party merchandise so they can wear the “jersey” of their team.
Political analysts “crunch the numbers” and release detailed data reports of election polling, popularity, and effectiveness, which also, more often than not, prove to be incorrect.
In 2016, 538 projected that Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had as high as a 70% chance of winning the Presidency; however, she lost decisively in the end. They were wrong.
The primary difference between sports and political culture is that politics is “played” for considerably higher stakes.
In sports, when a team loses a championship, the team rebuilds and tries again. However, “failure” within the political arena has consequences, directly affecting hundreds of millions of people long-term.
Politics in the United States of America is a fascinating field of study; however, it is not a game.
The idea that consensus between parties is unnecessary and that one side is entirely right or just, and the other is always wrong is simply unfounded politically.
While politicians, commentators, and media companies rake in millions if not billions of dollars at the expense of the American people, they are ultimately in the business of misleading the people who support them most to increase their bottom line. They need those American’s to be their fans!
The Republican and Democratic parties are not sports franchises!
The U.S. government is not a sport designed for entertainment.
Unfortunately, media outlets often abuse their power to build their bases of following. As a result, their reporting has become sensationalist and lazy as they run out of interesting or exciting topics to report on.
As Americans, we must demand more from our political and social system. In the United States of America, politics, and media (and the American flag) are not sports. All American’s are important; so much more than fans on a sports team.