Friday, September 24, 2010

I Had To Vote For Obama... John Elway Wasn't a Candidate

I was born in Aurora, Colorado which is a city not too far away from Denver. I lived there until I was eight years old and then my dad moved the family to Washington state for a better job opportunity and I imagine a little bit of it was to get away from his family. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the oldest of eleven children. Yikes… either way, the majority of my clear memories come from growing up in the Pacific Northwest. However, there are still some very significant things that happened in Denver that have shaped who I am today. 

One of the most influential things: John Elway and The Denver Broncos. 

I have a memory of my brother and my dad sitting together for days and days putting together a small model and replica of Mile High Stadium. I remember watching as they cut little circles out of construction paper to act as faces in the crowd. I remember every little white stripe of paper that was carefully laid down on the field, establishing the correct yardage from one end zone to the other. I can recall the uprights and sidelines clear as day. My brother and dad worked so hard on this field. And I don't believe it was for any kind of school project either. I think it was simply out of love for the game. I wish there were pictures of this - I know it didn't survive the move to Washington for sure. However, like so many things, it's the memory of the stadium being built that I will always keep with me, even if the actual model is long gone. 

My brother dressed as John Elway almost every Halloween that I can remember - at least when we were small. He actually sort of resembled John Elway with his tall stance and prominent front teeth. My brother had so much Denver Bronco paraphernalia, one could almost believe there was a relation to the great #7 somewhere down the line. There wasn't… just a huge love for the man, the team, and the game.  

I had a pretty typical football family growing up as well. Sundays and Monday nights were reserved for the television. My dad was smart enough to marry a woman who appreciated the sport and did not complain or insist that the Sunday night game was turned off so that we could catch up with the latest pop culture garbage that was on. She was right there next to us, in her Denver Broncos sweatshirt, cheering just as loudly as my dad. 

In the 80's, football was really all we had in Denver. There was no professional baseball team at that time and the Nuggets hadn't come around either. And if you weren't a Bronco fan, you might as well just live somewhere else. It was also during the 80's that the Broncos went to the Superbowl and lost. Three times. In 1986, they played in Super Bowl XXI against the New York Giants and lost by a score of 39-20. In 1987, they returned to the Super Bowl, only to lose to the Washington Redskins by a horrifying score of 42-10. In 1989, the year after we moved to Washington, they played in Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers and had an even worse loss of 55-10. However, no matter how many times my beloved team lost, they were still my team. 

I never was a Seahawk fan. In fact, a few years ago, one of my ex-boyfriends bought me a Hasselback jersey one year and I was actually offended. However, being so far away from Denver, I lost touch with the Broncos, and therefore with the sport. My dad continued his Sunday and Monday night rituals and my brother never stopped his die hard love for the team either. I started to grow up, got into horseback riding, 4-H, eventually boys and became disconnected from the game. Always being a sports lover, I found myself following the Seattle Mariners quite seriously and was happy to be an avid fan during the only year I can remember them doing well - 1995 when they won the American League West Division Championship. Baseball games were fun and I enjoyed having a crush on Alex Rodriguez when he was a nobody… but nothing could really replace the excitement of watching the Broncos run onto the field. 

I think what I like most about sports is how each member of the team feels personally responsible for the club's success. Every once in a while, you will get a hotshot that claims that the other team was just too big or that his teammates weren't giving him the ball enough… but for the most part, in those post-game press conferences, the Coach, the Quarterback, the Pitcher, etc. all get up and basically deliver the same message in a loss situation; we weren't playing to our full potential, we made too many mistakes, we weren't playing to win and in order to get the victory we want, we need to reevaluate the way we performed, make the necessary corrections and get back on the field and do it right. 

As someone who believes in existentialism and responsibility, this is easily one of the main reasons I am the gigantic sports fan that I am. 

I have never been much of a political person. My family has never been into politics and it wasn't until I was an adult that I even understood the difference between a Democrat and Republican. These days, I'm still not sure I am always clear what those differences are… in 2007 and 2008, however, I became very interested in the world of politics. I, like many Americans, was very nervous about the condition of our country. I was watching businesses shutting down left and right and getting more and more updates from my friends that were losing jobs and filing for unemployment. I was making less money at work and fearing for my own job as the restaurant industry had also been hit and Chili's was shutting down stores all across the country. I was frustrated with the war and upset that I had close friends that were being shipped off to fight in it. I was mad that George W. Bush always looked like an idiot on television and more upset that Dick Cheney looked like such an evil cowboy. I was outraged with Wall Street and all of the money that was going into the hands of the greedy and selfish and saddened to see so many of the hard working people of America who watched their so-called "American Dream" slip right out of their hands. I really couldn't believe that we had let things get this bad. As I started paying attention to the news more, I became further agitated by the finger pointing and the accusations and how it was always someone else's fault. If only the Democrats were in charge… or if only we had no terrorism… if only we could stop illegals from coming into the country. Suddenly, it was like every time I turned on the television, it was like I was watching the latest football showboater talk about how wonderful he could be if only "The Man" wasn't holding him down. 

So, when Barack Obama came along and started speaking of personal responsibility and what we need to change internally in order to improve the state of our nation, I started to listen. I watched political television every morning at the gym and read about it throughout the day on the computer. I constantly checked out where Obama stood in the polls and made sure I caught every major speech he made. Once again I, like many Americans, became excited about the new ideas that were coming out of his mouth. Yes, I wanted change. Yes, I wanted to see something different come out of Washington. Yes, I wanted someone to stand up and say we were wrong for some of the choices we made and correct them. I was on board. I registered to vote, talked a big game whenever the subject of politics came up and on election night, when the official announcement was made that we had a new President, I actually burst into tears of relief. Finally, there was something new to hope for. 

Originally, when I sat down to write this blog, I was going to point out the significant differences between sports and politics. However, as I write this, I see that there are actually more similarities than I thought. We have such high expectations as a country - we think that by electing a new President, even one with completely different ideas than the previous one, that we will see instant changes and everything will be fixed overnight. This is not too far off from drafting a new Quarterback, for example. Which, if anyone is following football as much as me, this does seem to be the new trend for the 2010 season. Many teams think that with a brand new Quarterback, the team will instantly go to the Super Bowl. However, it doesn't work that way. The Quarterback needs time to establish himself, learn the new teams' offense and defense, get familiar with the playbook and understand how to cope with the new coaching style he inevitably has to cope with. He has a whole new set of bosses, rules and expectations. Sometimes, a new Quarterback can come out of the gate and lead a team to victory, but this is not how it normally goes. Because no matter how good the Quarterback is, it is still the team that has to win. The same applies for any other position in the roster - a new Wide Receiver doesn't mean much if your Left Tackle sucks and an amazing Kicker is worthless if you are relying on him to score all your points. Until the team can find out how to work together cohesively, you can go to the Super Bowl three times (four if you count 1977) and lose every single one of them. Badly. 

Politically, things are still a mess. Maybe even a little more now that you have someone in office with a completely different throwing style than the previous leader. And it makes it more difficult that the team is not using the same rulebook when they go out on the field. However, sometimes I think it is our impatience as a country that makes things even more difficult for the players involved. As if they didn't have enough pressure already, we want a Super Bowl win right now. I believe that with time, patience and a little more support than most are willing to give, we'd see that we are actually on the right track for something bigger. We are starting to see responsibility take form and understand that we could be fighting for the wrong reasons. We still have a loooooong way to go… and I don't know if it's something that we will see in the four years that Obama has been given to make a significant change. All I know is that after years of losing, reevaluating, and getting back on the field, the Denver Broncos went back to the Super Bowl both in 1998 in a 31-42 win against the Green Bay Packers and in 1999 in a 34-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Afterwards, John Elway retired and we are back to creating our team again. Excellence in both sports and politics can be achieved… but we must remember that it can also be short-lived as the team must always reestablish itself as exactly that: a team. 

A lot of people say that it's no good being a sports fan in Las Vegas because we have no major team to cheer for. I am constantly baffled with this way of thinking. We are one of the very few places where, no matter where you are from or what sport you like, you are probably only a twenty minute drive from seeing your game live somewhere. Moving back here was the second best thing I could do (next to moving back to Denver) to reconnect with my Denver Broncos and fall in love with them all over again. I would much rather spend my Sunday mornings watching the pre-game show on ESPN than I would any political show, however I will remember that the two are really not that far off from one another. 

I hope that the country will give our new President a chance as he continues to speak from responsibility and accountability, like all good coaches and athletes do. And I hope we as a nation realize that our REAL team is NOT the Dallas Cowboys, but it's the team that we have elected to run the country. So give them a little support, a little credit, and quit wishing that it was the next draft already. It may take more than four years… it may take more than eight years… but there will be change. I guess the real question as an American is - do you want to watch it happen from the bleachers, the sideline or the field. Either way, you should probably still be part of the game. 

Even with all the hype, I don't own a Tim Tebow jersey. Kyle Orton is our starter and he is who I am supporting. Although, it would be nice to see Brady Quinn come in every once in a while. Give a girl some eye candy, will ya? 

2 comments:

  1. I just wanted to give a shout out to my Arizona Cardinals, go team hell yeah! Also I think John Elway should come back like Brett Favre has done over and over again, I think he could bring another Super Bowl to Denver. Heck I'd go to South Point and bet on him EVERY single week too!

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  2. Tina - It was great meeting you and "Jeremy" tonight! You're both terrific people, and I am loving your blog so far! I'm just scanning through right now and of course John Elway caught my eye...

    I lived in Aurora for three years when my Dad was stationed at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. That's where my Bronco's love blossomed (this was long before Elway took the field). Been a fan ever since!

    Love the politics / sports analogy.

    Keep up the great work! I will continue to read and we'll get you hooked up on WordPress soon.

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