Hot Votes in the Sports World
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Election 2006 may be almost over. There's some votes still left to count or maybe even recount. But there is still plenty of hot issues yet to vote on in the sports world. Here's commentator Frank Deford.
FRANK DEFORD: One of the things that people have long said about elections is that they've become too much like sports. It's even referred to as the horse race syndrome because all the media covers anymore is who's ahead, especially which candidate has momentum, that favorite sports page word. Substance has gone the way of the two-handed catch.
But just as elections have become too much like games, so have sports become too much about elections. The worst of course, is college football, where polls, not games, determine who plays and doesn't play for the championship.
Listen, sports was never supposed to be democratic. But now there are elections for everything: halls of fame, coaches of the year, all-stars, whatever. There was actually a minor league baseball team in Schaumburg, Illinois, this summer that operated by having the fans vote for the line-up. Really. Surprise, the team finished dead last.
The Internet has only made it worse. Go to any sports Web site and they're constantly asking you to vote for something, for anything. It's called interactive. Enough already! Life was never meant to be uber-interactive. I think it's healthy to be outer-active some of the time.
But we have become such a vote-promiscuous society that when it comes to voting for something that matters, which is to say our government, a lot of sports fans can't be bothered. Hey, I just voted 18 times already today for the NHL comeback player of the week, the poker all-stars and whether or not my baseball team should try to buy a Japanese pitcher. Let somebody else pull the levers for my governor or senator. I've done my job as a responsible American voter.
On the other hand, wouldn't it be wonderful if we fans could vote for the people who run sports just as we do for the people who run our lives. Many stadiums and arenas in this country are at least partially owned by the municipality where they're located. I think it ought to be the law that the taxpayers in such cases should be able to vote on who owns their team.
Goodbye, Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles. Ta-ta Billy Bidwell of the Arizona Cardinals. Farewell, Jeffrey Loria of the Florida Marlins. Or if a team owns its own facility we should at least be able to vote on whether or not the franchise has a right to use the name of our fair city. Let's have an election! Should anything as mismanaged as much as the Knicks or Rangers are by Madison Square Garden be allowed to appropriate New York City's good name? After 98 years of ineptitude, should the Cubs be allowed to drag Chicago's name through the mud for another year, let alone another century?
You know, I take it back. There should be a place for democracy in sport. Let's throw the rascals out, wherever they are!
MONTAGNE: Frank Deford is senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He votes in Connecticut and joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield.
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