Politicizing sports: Do the Packers represent 'The Right'?

January 31, 2011

This weekend, I received this e-mail from a relative: 

Subject: The Green Bay Packers Are Good For America

Every Red Blooded American should jump in line to support the Green Bay Packers! The Packers defeated the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon thus earning them the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. By doing so, they saved the Hard-Working, Red Blooded, Taxpaying Americans literally several million dollars of tax money. How you say? 

Simple... we were told that if the Chicago Bears had won that President Obama (and probably his family) would be attending the Super Bowl to cheer on his hometown team. Since the Bears lost...the President won't be attending.

The money saved from not using Air Force 1, the limosines, all the additional security, and let's not forget  Michelle Obama's entourage, is literally several million dollars!  Therefore everyAmerican should cheer on the Green Bay Packers at the Super Bowl to show them our gratitude. 

Ah, now that's one aspect of this great rivalry I hadn't considered: the politics. Green Bay (unwittingly?) has become the football representation of the Republican party, whereas a team like the Chicago Bears have become an arm for the Democrats. This isn't the first time that politics and sports have intertwined, so this may not come as a surprise to many.

Big game sporting events have always reeked of nationalism and over-the-top theatrics.  World Cup soccer, anyone?  Olympics?  Air Force jets to show international audiences we still have super power?  But I don't remember getting this e-mail when former presidents attended sporting events.

Last year, most people didn't think twice when former President George W. Bush was prominently featured as the Texas Rangers hosted the San Fransisco Giants during the 2010 World Series. After all, he did own the Rangers at one point.

But not only were he and his wife (and I believe his Father/Mother) in attendance,  they saddled up to the field in a special box behind home plate. That meant every camera angle for every pitch (about 300 thrown in a game) showed the former president in the background. Big deal, except that the game in question was played the Monday night before the mid-term election in October. 

That's not all.  When Fox showed the "God Bless America" 7th inning stretch, the cameras zoomed in on two images: President Bush and the American flag - over and over again. Ironically, the Giants won the game and celebrated on the Rangers' diamond. But I believe Bush (and Fox) helped stir up their base. So let's call it a draw, Texas.  

And now the focus of attention turns to Chicago.  With the Windy City's  "First Fan" in the White House, Chicago sport teams will undoubtedly attract the ire of those looking for another way to oppose the President.  Jay Cutler, Derrick Rose and Ozzie Guillen all will be synonymous with Obama, Pelosi and Clinton. And eek, what will happen if Rahm Emanuel is elected mayor?

I, for one, embrace the political bias. You want to rally against our Bears for other purposes than what's on the field? Great. Politics aside, we can use as much bulletin-board fodder as possible in this town.  And frankly, if the Green Bay Packers represent "Red Blooded Americans," I'm fine with representing something else.

Gee, I wonder if America will rally around the Chicago White Sox if they sweep through the American League this year. What if they draw someone like the Rangers in the ALCS, or even worse,  the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series? 

I'm already dreading the e-mails.