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Political Conventions Are Like Sporting Events

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I have wondered if anyone else noticed how much the Democratic and Republican conventions were like sporting events. We had everything that is very similar to sports: a home crowd advantage, cheerleaders, musical interludes, effective use of the Jumbotron, and a team that works together to pull off the victory.

There is, of course, an even more obvious correlation to sports: the one person who is the hero, the guy who is going to be the MVP and help win it all. For the Republicans it was Clint Eastwood; for the Democrats it was Bill Clinton. I find it curious that neither candidate, President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, was able to hit the walk-off homer; that was left to the supporting players to accomplish.

Bill Clinton was merely brilliant in a scholarly way, but in such a manner that is not pandering to the intelligentsia nor prohibitive for the common person to comprehend. I found Clinton’s oration to be rather Shakespearean, and who better than the Bard to know his audience and change the script to play up to the crowd. Clinton did this masterfully, and in doing so he confirmed his status as one of the most elegant speakers around.

Clint Eastwood became not a laughingstock, as many would try to make us believe, but more of a maverick. It says something about the man that at 82 he can seem like a rebel with a very definitive cause. Some pundits noted he was rambling and off target, but clearly there was more than a method to this madness. If nothing else, it provided a bright moment during the convention and caused me to laugh out loud (which I don’t do that much.). I just kept wondering when he would pull out the old .44 and ask the chair, “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?” That would have made my day.

There was so much going on during these two conventions, and I have to admit that now after three nights of each, everything has sort of melted into one for me. I remember some of what Joe Biden said through clenched teeth, as if someone was behind a curtain working the strings. I recall nothing of what Paul Ryan said. I don’t remember what Mrs. Romney or Mrs. Obama said either. I do recall Chris Christie, and I kept thinking “When is he going to stop talking about himself and start talking about the candidate?” No wonder they didn’t want him on the ticket.

Yes, to me these conventions seemed like they were held in old Rome in an arena brimming with citizens, most of them poor and wanting better lives. What they saw on the floor was like the gladiators, minus the balls and chains and swords and lions. This was pure spectacle, with the goal to work the crowd into a frenzy. Isn’t this what all sporting events do so well: get the crowd so animated that what is happening is not as important as that they are there watching it happen.

In the end both sides thought they were the winning team; however, unlike sports, these matches didn’t feature one team playing against the other. It is a virtual contest, and the “fans” must imagine the confrontation, playing out the string until November when they can either give the thumbs up or thumbs down sign to the candidates.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather see a real sporting event. Why not get Biden and Ryan to go two or three rounds in the ring? Or maybe Romney and Obama could play a few sets of tennis or some hoops. This would be far more entertaining, and whoever wins can get to stand and absorb the adulation of the crowd, and then we all could say our new president is a good sport and know it was absolutely true.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • Rich Sackett

    Clint Eastwood: laughingstock. Sadly, there’s no other realistic way to describe what happened. That is was some sort of brilliant, adept performance art is the height of self-delusion. It was very sad. Nobody won that one.