Sunday night was one of the most watched events on American television. No, not “Harry Potter” weekend. It was the 51st Super Bowl. Now, this heralded American tradition comes around once a year, and people gather for parties with seven-layer dip and a six-pack of beer. Some people follow their teams with a fanatic devotion. Others look at the two playing and pick the one that they like the most (or hate the least). A few non-sports people who still want in on the excitement double up on their friends’ opinions. Whatever the method of picking teams, more than a hundred million Americans gathered around their televisions for a night of high-stakes rivalry and entertaining commentary.
In November, a nation of voters gathered around their televisions for a night of high-stakes rivalry and not-as-entertaining commentary as the 2016 presidential election results were announced. Many on social media are comparing these two highly watched events as almost allegories of each other. There are comparisons to the New England Patriots and President Donald Trump, the Atlanta Falcons and Hillary Clinton, the mapped out projections of each events’ wins, the “surprise” comeback, and so on and so on. We’re going to compare what these events had in common. Number one, they were each watched by millions of people. And that’s it. That’s right, folks. Believe it or not, any parallels between this sporting event and the political event of last November are complete stretches, hyped up by social media.
There’s no real link between the Patriots and Trump or the Falcons and Clinton other than the fact that the Patriots won and the Falcons didn’t, even though the Falcons were the “fan favorite” — you could make the same argument about Season 2 of American Idol, comparing Clay Aiken to Clinton and Ruben Studdard to Trump. If you’re going to make a comparison, it has to hold up. If you want to talk about how people were rooting for the underdog, then comparing the Falcons to Clinton doesn’t make sense, since if anything, Trump was the outsider, the dark horse, and Clinton was the established “team,” much like the Patriots. So that comparison falls flat. If you want to talk about how the win was a “surprise” that no one expected, that doesn’t work either. Ask any political analyst, and he or she will tell you that Trump’s win was evident within the first hour — he was winning in places that were traditionally blue. During the game, however, the Patriots were losing badly until a surprise turn around in the end. There are more comparisons people are making, from the areas of the country each team represents (for the record, New England historically votes Democrat), to how teams should’ve let other players in.
These comparisons are stretches at best, and they are annoying and for goodness sakes, don’t try to make a joke about how if Bernie Sanders had been the quarterback, the Falcons could’ve won. The fact is football is football. Politics is politics. It’s become increasingly common to compare current events and politics to entertainment and sports — things that don’t necessarily warrant a comparison. Yes, no two spheres exist without overlap, and athletes and entertainers are allowed to be politically active. Politicians are allowed to have favorite sports teams and movies.
But making continued, overdone comparisons between two highly popular things — especially comparisons that are weak and full of holes — trivializes the problem and doesn’t do much in the end.
Correction: This editorial has been updated to correctly identify the Atlanta Falcons football team. It is not the Alabama Falcons.