Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “Election years are always weird in America, and they always happen in football season. That is a fact of life. The President will always be elected on the first Tuesday in November, for good or ill, and not even Richard Nixon could change it.”
Nixon was a known football fanatic, and sports and politics have certainly always had a connection. The two are also uniquely linked this week: As President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney prepare for their final debate Monday night, thoughts of another contest may loom in the back of their minds: Monday Night Football. When the Detroit Lions take the field against the Chicago Bears on Monday evening, it will not only be a fierce match-up of division rivals, it will also be a showdown between the candidates’ home towns.
The president’s Windy City roots are well-known, but the former Massachusetts Governor was born and raised in Michigan. It’s a battle of bragging rights to be sure, but on Sunday both the president and the governor appeared on a certain NFL pre-game show to talk about the power and influence of pigskin in America, and mentioned nothing about Monday’s game. Instead, they used their nationally televised appearances to discuss one of the few uniting forces in Washington these days: RGIII.
Yes, the Beltway is wild for Washington Redskins rookie quarterback sensation, Robert Griffin III.
While Congress sees its approval rating at all-time lows, and the presidential nominees engage in an increasingly bitter race, it’s good to know that our nation’s leaders can at least agree on one thing. And while the great RGIII and his fellow Redskins fell to the New York Giants Sunday, so too must one of the squads on Monday.
Regardless of who loses, it’s likely the candidates will take it in stride. There’s a reason the word “sports” is in sportsmanship.
But following last week’s often testy debate at Hofstra, how will the president and the governor handle Monday’s battle royale in Boca? Will Act III be as contentious as Act II? Or will President Obama and Governor Romney take a page from the RGIII playbook?
The former Heisman trophy winner not only stands out as a competitor, he also has a track record as a gentleman and a scholar. Governor Romney says “RGIII has really struck a chord with sports fans, uniting Democrats and Republicans,” while President Obama calls Griffin “a great young man.”
Maybe our politicians could use a little more of that.