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Football and Presidential Politics


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Football and Presidential Politics


As a student, and later a high school teacher, I’ve studied presidential politics.  Yet, I’m also a football fan.  With the football season now reaching the playoffs, what better time to explore what I see as comparisons between these two seemingly disparate topics: presidential politics and football.  


I would posit that presidential politics, over the years, by far and large, has been “played” near the mid-field stripe.  Oh, there have been instances, historically, where “teams” have tried to move the yard-markers in one direction or another.  More often than not, these so-called “fringe” groups and unsuccessful third-party entrants, e.g., Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive “Bull Moose” Party (in 1912, they did win more votes than the regular Republican Party); George Wallace’s American Independent Party; Ross Perot’s Reform Party, etc. have all failed to make much of a dent in the generally speaking “middle-of-the-road” American political scene.


Yet, the current administration has, most decidedly, moved the yard-sticks away from the 50-yard line.  That begs the question: How have they accomplished this? 


You only have to look as far back at “Woody” Hayes’s, the former Ohio State coach’s philosophy: “Three yards and a cloud of dust.”  Grind it out on the ground.  “Smash-mouth” football.  Nothing fancy.  Steamroll your opponents!  That appears to be the playbook of the current administration.


I believe it’s really more about deception.  In other words, get the opposition so confused and so perplexed that “their heads are spinning”.  Bewilder your opponents.  Keep them off-balance (As some of the “nerdier” students in my high school used to say: “Pursue Them, Pursue Them, Make Them Relinquish the Ball!”).


In football parlance, the current administration starts this process by putting “a man in motion” (that will most certainly draw coverage), e.g., “The Wall,” (What ever happened to that?); Tariffs (Still front page, and with much bluster, yet nothing of substance has been agreed upon); the media, (Still being attacked. Continued attempts at intimidation); Foreign Policy (We’ve alienated our friends and have given a tyrant a “blank check” to kill our allies).  


And then, keep your opponents off balance by changing the formation, i.e., topic(s) that you bring up.  The current administration is constantly changing the topic. In football, the formation, e.g., empty backfield, “I” formation, “deuce” backfield offset right-half, “T” formation, even the “single wing,” (Remember Princeton in the 1950s), etc.   This certainly adds to the confusion.


Furthermore, under this heading of deception, the administration is running all kinds of “trap plays” and “counters”.  And, as part of their playbook, they’re employing double- and even triple-reverses, i.e., “walking-back” matters.   They’re “freezing” the linebackers by faking a running back into the line, and then throwing a pass.  They’ll probably bring back the old “Statue of Liberty” play (although they don’t seem to welcoming many immigrants, especially from Hispanic countries, to our shores).  It’s literally a gridiron, three-ringed circus with POTUS as “the ringmaster,” I mean the QB.  By the way, his “coaching staff” are masters when it comes to deception.   


The way things are heading, unless some kind of defensive stand can be made, i.e., impeachment, this administration will soon move into “The Red Zone” (inside your opponent’s 20-yard line).  From there, it is difficult – yet, not impossible – to prevent the “other team” from scoring. 


Further, it’s been bandied about that the administration has spared no expense in accomplishing their goals.  They most certainly appear to be over the salary cap.


Oh, I suppose they could fumble.  Their razzle-dazzle, helter-skelter, “flea-flicker” approach lends itself to “coughing up” the football. 


And, if they didn’t recover their own fumble, they could come up with some “projections,” such as, the football was underinflated or overinflated, or it was slipperier than a “greased pig” (come to think of it, isn’t a football called “the pigskin”), or they could blame it on the Russians.  That the “Inscrutable One” had placed “a wire” in the football that allowed the “Ruskies” (Haven’t there been “fumblerooskis?”) to know the next play.


Furthermore, make no mistake, these plays are run with the kind of precision (highly prepared and practiced) that I believe would have made Alabama’s legendary head coach, “Bear” Bryant, proud. 


And once that first touchdown has been scored, it’s only a matter of time before other tallies will follow.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current administration tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.  And should they recover that loose ball, they could march down the field, yet again, for another TD.


Further, it wouldn’t amaze me if the POTUS rolled up the score (what that portends I cannot tell, but it sends shivers down my spine).  Maybe it would eclipse the 1940 NFL title game in Washington, D.C. in which the Chicago Bears shellacked the Washington Redskins, 73-0.


Yet, I believe what concerns me most, more than the outcome (make no mistake, that’s most concerning) is the aftermath.  We’ve all seen championship “celebrations” get out of hand.  They could even attempt to “change the playing field.”


Finally, some might say that football is football and presidential politics is presidential politics and “never the twain shall meet”.  It’s like comparing “apples to oranges”.  Then again.



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