On July 4th, 1776, the city of Philadelphia was ground zero for the experiment that was to be known as American Democracy; a beautiful idea that would give the people of this new society a voice to be heard, a haven to practice religion freely, and the unprecedented opportunity to elecPt their new leader on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November every four years. The people of Philadelphia could not even wait for the ink to dry on the the Declaration of Independence before they were lining the streets, shooting muskets in the air, and marching towards revolution to rid themselves of the tyranny of King George.
232 years later, Philadelphians are once again amassed in the streets to celebrate their freedom from an entity that makes King George look like George Constanza. His name is “King Championship Drought the 25th.” And rest easy, Philadelphia, because of your beloved Phillies, he is now in the stockade heading back to Buffalo where he belongs.
But with one of the most important elections of the past 40 years a mere day away, it is hard not to appreciate the irony of the World Series trophy being hoisted in the city that birthed the United States of America on the eve of such a historic decision. And though theoretically they should be on polar opposite ends of the spectrum, it is also hard not to appreciate the direct correlation between the sporting world and the political arena.
Whether it be Athens vs. Sparta, Louis vs. Shmelling, or the United States vs. the USSR, sports and politics have found a unique, common bond within each other to cross-promote the inherent passions from one discipline to the other. And why shouldn’t they? On the international front, sports can unify people from different walks of life to find a belief in one common goal and transplant the masked contempt for another country by letting the players on the field do it for them. If the players on the field play well and win, it is not only that team that wins, it is that entire country. A feeling of superiority comes with that victory as well. This is so prevalent during the Euro Cup, that the head of the European Union really could, and if it were up to me, should be appointed by which country wins the tournament.
Domestically, Politicians use sports as a way to connect with the people. While in Western Pennsylvania last week, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin congratulated the audience on the Philadelphia Phillies World Series victory. She was in Western Pennsylvania. She was then thoroughly booed and was made to walk the plank by Pirates fans. On the other side of the isle, Senator Obama was quoted that he was rooting for the Phillies while campaigning in Philadelphia. However, as he was campaigning in Tampa Bay, Senator Obama was quoted that he was rooting for the Rays. Hmm. I am all for using sports and sports franchises to form a common bond with the locals on the campaign trail, but by doing this the candidate is just making a mockery of the city itself. Maybe Giulliani had the right idea.
But when all is said and done, the Phillies will be getting their rings and the election is coming to a head. Is a championship of American’s Pastime in the revolutionary city for one of the game’s oldest clubs a sign that Americans need to “conserve” their past? Or will the young Phillies faces represent the fact that the pastime is finally coming into the 21st century harboring the “change” we need? Whatever the case may be, this fact remains the same: Sports, Politics and Women are the only three things that can bring men that much joy and that much sorrow.