Will speculates: if football games were like presidential primaries
COLUMBUS: It’s 2008, known in America as the Year of the 2-year election campaign. The first preliminary contest was held January 3, ten months before election day, November 4. That’s “my” birthday. I was born on election day, and I think they settled on November 4 this year just for comedy purposes. If ever a nation needed a sense of humor over an election, this is the year.
The primary election season is just underway, and already the newspapers and television folks are telling us who should win.
As I write this, Iowa has voted, and the candidates with their supporters and 20,000 media folks have invaded New Hampshire. By next week, the leading Democrat candidate may have corralled about 40 of the 4051 delegates up for grabs, the runner-up will have about 35, and the third guy around 30. The Republicans won’t be much different. And pundits will be telling you who has dropped out, who should drop out, and who they predict will round up 2000 more delegates and win the nomination. It is mostly nonsense but it gives the TV folks something to fill air time with till the Writers return.
But in these early states, it is serious business. Politics is New Hampshire’s leading industry, just ahead of real estate sales, mostly to former residents of Massachusetts. In Iowa it’s number 2, but only because this year corn is bringing $4.00 a bushel.
Suppose we ran a football game the same way we run Presidential politics. This Monday night in New Orleans, college football will declare a winner, either OSU or LSU.
Now if the TV boys were in charge of the game, here’s what to expect: Ohio State returns the opening kickoff to the 25. On the first play the running back (we’ll call him Joe) gains nothing. Next the quarterback passes for a first down at the 40.
Now it gets interesting: the referee calls a TV timeout so the half-dozen pundits at each network can speculate and predict who will win.
During the timeout, Joe (one run, zero yards) tells the coach, “I quit,” and walks out of the stadium. A bench warmer (Chris) quits with him. Can you imagine that? Years of playing football, weeks of intense practice, and less than a minute into the championship, they give up.
Meanwhile on the sideline, Dennis the water boy, sees the two players leave and corners the coach, “Let me play. I know I can do it. Pretty please.”
The TV folks take a poll of the viewers. Fans at the game can participate by texting. Poll results are posted on the scoreboard.
The game starts again. A long pass is intercepted, giving Louisiana State the ball on their 15. On the first play the star quarterback throws for 20 yards. Next play is a run for 12. Timeout!
More punditry, more polling, more intense speculating. Now the network folks are 75 percent sure they know the eventual winner.
The game finally continues, 13 minutes left in the first quarter. Next play, the quarterback is sacked. He’s hurt. Timeout!
TV folks say they are 90 percent positive that whoever is ahead at the end of the quarter will win.
Back on the field, the second-string quarterback enters the huddle. No, wait. It’s not the usual substitute. The crowd roars approval. The pundits recognize the change. Now they know, 100 percent positive, THIS is the winning team. Why? Because the new QB is the star quarterback’s wife.
Now, dear readers, this is what could happen if you played a championship football game like an election campaign.
Next week I’ll report results from the third primary. No, not South Carolina. This one will be January 11, the National No-till Farmers Presidential Primary, held in Cincinnati. No predictions on a winner, but I bet a couple of candidates will get more votes than they did in Iowa.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“The locusts that I saw swarming the Argentine are houseflies compared to the destruction by a presidential election… It takes a great country to stand a thing like that hitting it every four years.” WA #516, Nov. 3, 1932
“I was born on November 4, that was Election Day. Women couldn’t vote in those days, so my mother thought she would do something, so she stayed home and gave birth to me.” Notes, undated.