From right to left

Sports fans, this is my platform.

I’m really just like you. I’m from a small town near a big city. Growing up, my father worked long hours at two jobs just to keep the Yankees games on the television. My mother once had to sell some of her jewelry just to keep air in her young son’s soccer ball.

I know what it’s like to have to struggle. I know what it’s like to have to struggle through season after season of watching your most-beloved basketball team fall short of expectations.

But some people in politics – and even those who call themselves fans of the sport – don’t seem to understand us. They sneer down at us from their elitist platforms, simply unable to connect with the Joe the Sportsfans of the world.

They think that just because they read their newspaper’s from the front page to the back, instead of from right to left like you and I, they are better or different than us.

Well, sports fans, I’m here to tell you that they are no better than you or I, and certainly no different. In fact, the similarities between we the sports followers and those that follow politics are seemingly endless.

Case in point.

Last Wednesday, I covered for the Torch a University-sponsored showing of the third and final Presidential debate between our two American choices. It was held in the Taffner Field House, the basketball team’s practice facility. And when I walked down the stairs and got sight of the almost 400 chairs set out for the expected guests, the tray-after-tray spread of fried chicken and the 30-foot screen for showing the game, sorry, debate, my first and only thought was, “What is this, the Superbowl?”

Not quite, but close. In talking to some of the people in charge of the event I learned that the only other time during the school year that the 30-foot screen gets rolled out and set up in Taffner is the Superbowl, and that the Superbowl party and the debate viewing are two of only about four events all year where student attendance numbers would reach 400.

Then I’m in my car on the way to school the next day, flipping through my AM dial and I realize that I can no longer decipher the voices of the political talk radio hosts and the sports talk radio hosts. Is that Rush Limbaugh ranting about the Mets’ latest collapse? No, it’s just Mike Francesca weighing in on the financial crisis. I wonder who he thinks should be in the next President’s bullpen.

Later that night on CNN, Wolf Blitzer is drawing the Xs and Os of the possibility of a John McCain victory on a map of the United States with the same magic marker that John Madden uses to break down football plays.

The point is, we – both sports and political junkies alike – are passionate followers of our teams or parties. And whether the scandal be Watergate or Spygate, we wear our opinions, campaign pins and sports logos on our sleeves.

So, I say get out and vote. Or bet. A wager on McCain winning the election is paying out 350 to one.