Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A mini-snark break ... why pucks and politics don't mix well

Instant joke: After Saturday night, what will Gov. Sarah Palin, Michael Irvin with a broken neck, Eric Lindros and Santa Claus have in common?

... They will have each been booed in Philadelphia.

No doubt most sports fans could care less that the Flyers' Ayn Rand-adoring owner Ed Snider (right in picture), has invited the "most popular hockey mom in North America" (his words) to drop the puck on Saturday. It's a cheap political stunt and it makes little sense.

After all, David Brooks just called Palin a "fatal cancer" in the Republican Party. The Flyers don't want to be associated with cancer -- they fired a coach for having it!

Philly is the Democrats' turf and sports fans there take a certain pride in booing people. Why subject a candidate to that? Republicans tend to fare better in Western Pennsylvania. By that logic, then, it would make more sense to have Gov. Palin make an appearance at a home game of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers' hated rivals. Ironically enough, the Penguins part-owner, Ron Burkle, is a big-time Democratic donor, so that's probably not happening.

On some level, this is funny and fairly nonsensical. On another level, it is a classic case of "the right-wing edge of the fundamentalist movement that uses sports to mask a political agenda of creationism, bigotry, environmental catastrophe and deregulation." (Dave Zirin, The Nation, Oct. 7.)

Snider absolutely adores Ayn Rand, who was a great author only to people who never read any other authors. He even helped found the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism, whose Wiki notes that (unlike Palin) it is pro-choice and firmly for the separation of church and state.

Professional sports teams are always going to invite politicians to appear at games. People will always claim they're against mixing politics and sports in general, even though they don't say a peep if they support the politician in question.

It is Snider's hockey team and it is his prerogative to invite whoever he chooses. It bears repeating, though, that the beauty of sport is that you can connect with other people as fans without caring or knowing how or if they voted in the last election. Shame on the Ed Snider for spitting on a sacred truth of sports for the sake of his political agenda. People support the Flyers because they're a successful team, not because of the owner's politics.


Greg said...

Ah, Philly. It was said by either Jay Johnstone, Mike Schmidt or Bob Ueker (the story is old, old, old — but supposedly true) that "when the (ball) game's rained out, Philly fans go to the airport and boo band landings."

Duane Rollins said...

"Snider absolutely adores Ayn Rand, who was a great author only to people who never read any other authors"

This is why we love ya Neate.

Dennis Prouse said...

Diss her all you like, Neate, but Sarah Palin is the most intriguing story to emerge from this campaign. Whether you like her politics or not, you can't deny that she has a tremendous amount of charm and charisma. Her approval rating in Alaska was over 80%, so she had to be doing something right.

Very few politicans have "it" - Trudeau did, Reagan did, and Bill Clinton does. Stephen Harper could serve for 15 years, but he will never have "it". Sarah Palin has got "it". She drew 60,000 people to a rally in Florida a couple of weeks ago -- the only other politician in America who could possibly attract a crowd that big right now would be Barack Obama. Everywhere Palin goes, she is attracting huge crowds, plenty of media, and lots of controversy. Kind of sounds like Madonna, doesn't it?

Go ahead and underestimate her - Republicans did that with Bill Clinton, and kept getting their butts handed to them for their troubles. Is this woman Dan Quayle with lipstick? Perhaps, but there are a whole lot of people in the States convinced she is Reagan in drag. Reagan was looked down upon by left-leaning intellectuals his whole political career, and all he kept doing was winning elections, and transforming the political culture of America permanently. Oh, and while he was at it he won the Cold War. Not bad for a guy who, like Sarah Palin, was repeatedly tagged as a simpleton.

Just as Reagan was a lot more socially liberal than he ever let on, (he actually liberalized abortion rights as California governor), Palin also leans libertarian on some social issues. For example, she vetoed a Bill that would have denied benefits to same sex couples.

BTW, I predict she'll get a surprisingly warm reception in Philly. Sure, she'll get some boos, but she will get a surprising level of applause, even from people who have no intention of voting for her. It is usually suicide for a politician to be introduced at a sporting event, but somehow I'm betting she pulls it off.

sager said...


This post wasn't even about Palin.

Politics is a little beyond my ken -- as a colleague told me this summer, "You're just an agate guy."

This was about sports owners' conceit that just because people pay good money to watch their team play, that gives them license to thrust their politics in someone's face.

It does not. Neither the right or the centre-right has the privilege of doing that, plain and simple. Besides, in doing my due diligence, I read a lot of political and Philly blogs, and most of the posts were anti-Palin.

Anyway, so what if she pulls it off? Not getting booed in public does not make one qualified to be vice-president of anything, let alone the United States of America.

At least Reagan did change the political culture of America permanently. Tripling the national debt will do that.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

I'm not too bothered by this one. There are very few politicians, entertainers or even athletes everyone approves of: that doesn't mean that none of them should ever be invited to pre-game or mid-game ceremonies just because some of the people in the crowd won't like them. I'd have no problem with Obama throwing out the first pitch at a White Sox game or being honoured at a Bulls game, even though there would certainly be some fans in the stands who don't like him: it should be the same way for Palin.

You can't please everyone, and I don't think you should focus on trying to. I don't think Snyder's "spitting on a sacred truth of sports", but even if he is, he's hardly the first one: politicians have made appearances at various sports games for decades, and no one's made much of a fuss about it. Just because you don't agree with someone's politics doesn't mean you have to boo them or be outraged that they're at a sporting event you're attending. There are many politicians I don't like, but I wouldn't have a problem with them appearing at a sporting event I went to.

sager said...

Apparently Hardcore Hockey Talk, which of course includes that notorious socialist Al Strachan (sarcasm), ripped into the NHL for this one ... and for Bettman for ringing the bell at the NY Stock Exchange when the market just tanked worse than it has in a generation. (Hey, Gary knows what it's like to lose half your equity.)

Talking about this with a friend (after the post went up), he pointed out, "Do you think David Stern in the NBA or Roger Goodell in the NFL would let an owner do this?" No, they wouldn't. They wouldn't invite someone who's so polarizing a month before the most important election in U.S. history.

To paraphrase Michael Jordan, Democrats buy skates too.

Dennis Prouse said...

Neate, why do you hate freedom so much? :-)

Anonymous said...

It's always "the most important election in history", at least until the next one...

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, I'm already sick of seeing this women's face.
I don't care if her approval rating in Alaska was's Alaska dammit.
The scary thing is, this woman is a heartbeat away from assuming the presidency. Given McCain's medical history that is not a remote possibility.
And BTW...what's the deal with Palin's winking and blinking at the camera when she speaks?
Is she the biggest flirt ever or does she have a peculiar nervous tick?