Sunday, November 09, 2008

Right side of history, wrong side of the scoreboard

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Barack Obama tribute on Saturday seems to have gone mostly uncommented upon.

Early in the game, which Edmonton won 29-21 to end the Blue Bombers' season, Romby Bryant took advantage of a busted coverage (all together now: Maciocia!) for a 78-yard touchdown.

In the end zone, several Blue Bombers lifted their jerseys to reveal T-shirts bearing the president-elect's name. It was no big deal. The Blue Bombers' players (and cheerleaders) have a penchant for cheeky public displays, and if they want to have some fun, by God, we're happy for them. Sportsnet Connected did not even show the celebration during its recap, since it wasn't part of the larger narrative of Edmonton winning the actual game.

It is quite a contrast between the flak NFL wide receivers Chad Ocho Cinco and Brandon Marshall have taken of late.

(Update: Dave Zirin has columns on this in New York Daily News and Washington Post, for anyone who is interested. It is not so much forcing politics on people, as acknowledging there are a politics in sport.)

Ocho Cinco admitted he had Obama banners stashed in either end zone during a recent game. That was dodgy, considering that his team is sucking out loud, but at the end of the day, he is an entertainer. Still, people called him an idiot.

Marshall had the idea that on Thursday, in the first NFL game since the election, he would hold up a black-and-white glove symbolizing unity if he scored a touchdown. When he did score, it came in the final 90 seconds of the game to put his team up by four points. His teammates, not wanting to get a 15-yard penalty stopped him. The chattering class whomped Marshall but good for even considering the gesture.

Dave Zirin noted, "Someone should tell the suits and ESPN: Some things are actually more important than sports."

Who knows what is the biggest reason why the reaction is apparently muted in Canada. Football is not connected to the power structure the way it is in the States. Hockey is the game that the business and political elites have sunk their teeth into in this country. We also like to believe we are a more liberal nation and above all else, are pretty live-and-let-live to the point of lameness.
There also seems to be a greater consciousness that in other countries, it is no big deal when sports figures are politically active.

Unfortunately for the Blue Bombers, they lost, but fortunately for them, their got their tribute in before shows of Obamania at sports events might have become dated. Sadly, its best-before might have passed during the first half of the Yates Cup on Saturday, when a VBWS (Very Blond Western Student) appeared on camera holding a sign that read, "Obama + UWO: Yes We Can!"

Granted, if any football team epitomizes the spirit of the 44th President's victory, it would be the Western Mustangs, who have the largest football budget in their conference, have been winning championships for decades and and represent a preppy party school where as one student once put it, "I saw enough Hollister and American Eagle (on campus) that my brain was starting to hurt."

Granted, Obama's triumph is far less relatable for CFL players. There is no way they could identify with "the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on" as pro athletes who sweat and bleed for less than $100,000 a year and grew up as black men in the United States of America.

No, it is more relatable for some 20-year-old who was there for the long lines outside The Ceeps, the time the Sex and The City movie was sold out and the housemates whose feet are too wide to wear a pair of Manolos. Point being, you should be glad the Bombers did their thing when they did.

The Blue Bombers Support Barack Obama (, which got the pics)
No Obamamania for Brandon Marshall (Dave Zirin, The Nation)
Did Tiger Woods pave Barack Obama's path? Are you joking? (New York Daily News)
Missing the Campaign? Try the Politics of Sports (Washington Post)

1 comment:

Dennis Prouse said...

News flash - Obama won. He's the President-elect. There's nothing terribly edgy or provocative about scrambling to the front of the parade route now. A year ago, maybe, but now? Lame.