That was quite a ride wasn’t it, football fans?

Published 8:53am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I know many of you probably aren’t ready to talk about the end of Auburn’s season Monday night. Three points and a barely missed miracle play away from one of history’s most improbable championships in any sport.

Heck, I’m still not sure if I’m ready to talk about the Iron Bowl.

Yes I’m one of those who roots hard for the Tide, but also was relatively crushed Monday night when the Tigers came up short. My grandmother pulls for Auburn and always has. So does my favorite aunt and a number of my closest friends.

I can’t root for my grandmother’s team to lose except that one time a year it’s (hopefully) to my alma mater.

It wasn’t to the same degree but I felt the thud to my gut Monday night as the title dream slipped away. I know my orange and blue readers felt it acutely.

And we who wear crimson know the feeling all too well, that sickened place in our stomachs as Auburn’s literal last-second miracle unfolded in the Iron Bowl.

A loss by our favorite team creates a visceral, all but excruciating sensation. And that got me to thinking, “Why only for sports?”

For all the love we have for the Tide or Tigers, the scoreboard at the end of these games doesn’t really affect our lives that much. Sure, it means that obnoxious guy in the office, or a blowhard uncle over the holidays, will have a little more fodder to prey on our nerves.

But there’s no effect on our bank account, the local job market, our health or our tax burden.

Contrast the agony of a big loss on the gridiron to our preferred candidate’s loss at the polls. It may not be the best example, but I can say for certain that watching the slow motion doom of Mitt Romney’s campaign in November 2012 didn’t feel anything like watching Chris Davis break loose on that field goal return. Not even in the same ball park.

I’m pretty sure that even the most devoted Democrat in the South would have trouble claiming the Republican rout in 2010 hurt as bad as their chosen side losing a big ball game.

How many even vote in the average local mayoral election? How many who aren’t a friend or relative care very much which way it turns?

Yet in very real terms, the political wins and losses affect our lives. In terms of taxes, economic policy, military decisions and a variety of other ways, the outcome of elections at the national, state and federal levels truly matters. But only a handful of the people care and even fewer note the wins or losses as anything more than a passing interest.

That has long been a fringe benefit of the American political system, I believe. In the past, no government at any level had enough power to do a whole lot to affect the regular guy. There was no reason to get too upset or too excited about the political flavor of the hour.

The outcome of the football game mattered more in real terms. After all, we’ll all see that obnoxious guy every day at the office. The governor or president will only preempt our regularly scheduled programming a handful of times each year.

But now there are federal agencies making plays that will jack our energy prices in the long run. The NSA is hoovering up our cell phones calls and emails and the IRS admitted last year to taking sides in the lead-up to the election.

From the other political perspective, state Republicans have gutted the institutional backing and benefits of public employees, and to hear them tell it, the last Republican in the White House dragged us into war for no reason.

These days, it’s getting a bit more costly to ignore politics in favor of a bouncing pigskin.

David Goodwin writes a weekly column for The Wetumpka Herald.

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