a, Behind the Bench, Sports

Beers, cheers, and tears: that’s politics

‘Happy Hour’ on a Tuesday night—not exactly the time you would expect to pay $3 cover at Gert’s. But our thirst had to be quenched, and we couldn’t walk much further. My friend and I were in search of a simple study break and an escape from the ‘McLennan Madness.’ As we ordered our first pints, it became very clear that we had stumbled into something much bigger.

It was election night in the United States. Though we knew the circumstances, the abundance of Uncle Sam top hats did serve as an ever-constant reminder. The scene was reminiscent of any Montreal bar on the night of a Canadiens-Leafs game. Only this time, the blue jerseys far outnumbered the red.

I got the sense that everyone was there for the same reason. Everyone wanted to celebrate something. The parallels between ‘Election Night in America’ and ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ were uncanny. Attendees were rocking their team colours, decking themselves out in face paint, and waving their banners with pride.

The bar was decidedly in favour of the Barack Obama, erupting as though a goal were scored every time CNN projected Electoral College votes for the incumbent. Mitt Romney supporters were not shy either, and they huddled together like fans of the visiting team, and tried to make their voices heard in the left-leaning crowd.

Soon, the line to get into Gert’s stretched out the basement doors of the SSMU building onto McTavish. It may have been my imagination, but as Obama’s lead grew, you could faintly hear someone starting the ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ chant. In fact, the event started to seem incomplete without a tailgate party and the Goodyear blimp.

While the sports parallels continued to mount, one stark contrast began to emerge: politics is drastically more consequential than sports. In both cases, roughly 50 per cent of the audience goes home happy. However, the result of an election can present serious ramifications in peoples’ lives. For the 50 per cent who go home defeated—or 47.9 per cent in this case—there are no more games left on the schedule. This is not a best-of-seven series. There is no rematch. This is of quantifiable importance.

It is because of its profound impact that politics can be so divisive. Our differences of opinion over the Red Sox and Yankees, the Lakers and Celtics, or the Leafs and Canadiens don’t ultimately decide who we are as human beings. How we take care of the poor and the elderly, wage war on other nations, or utilize natural resources—these choices are far more telling of our identity than whether our favourite teams win or lose.  Just don’t remind me of that during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

In the end, that is why people love sports so much. Sport allows us to pour our blood, sweat, and tears into something so trivial, yet seemingly so significant. We can despise the logo on someone’s sweater without holding any disdain for the man or woman wearing it. We can laugh, cry, fight, and make up, all in two-and-a-half hours—then do it all over again the next night. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of politics—but it was nice to see us try.

One Comment

  1. John O'Connor

    Your grandfather is right… Both you and the article are excellent. When I meet up with Ian again, her can buy me a drink and we’ll toast you, John

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