During his New Rules segment of his HBO program Real Time, Bill Maher used the Super Bowl to call out right wing hypocrites who hate President Obama for socialism, but love the most socialistic enterprise in America, the National Football League, “So you kind of have to laugh that the same angry white males who hate Obama because he is redistributing wealth, just love football, a sport that succeeds because it does just that.”
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After some great Super Bowl humor, Maher got to the economics lesson, “It’s no surprise that some 100 million Americans will watch the Super Bowl next week. That’s 40 million more than go to church on Christmas, suck on that Jesus. It’s also 85 million more than watch the last game of the World Series, and in that is an economic lesson for America, because football is built on an economic model of fairness and opportunity, and baseball is built on a model where the rich always win, and the poor usually have no chance. The World Series is like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You have to be a rich bitch to just to play, whereas the Super Bowl is like Tila Tequila, anybody can get in.”
Maher continued, “Or to put it another way, football is more like the Democratic philosophy. Democrats don’t want to eliminate capitalism or competition, but they would like it if some kids didn’t have to go to a crummy school in a rotten neighborhood, while others get to go to a great school and their dad gets them into Harvard because when that happens achieving the American Dream becomes. It is easy for some and just a fantasy for others. That’s why the NFL literally shares the wealth. TV is their biggest source of revenue, and they put it all in a big commie pot and split it 32 ways, because they don’t want anyone falling too far behind. That’s why the team that wins the Super Bowl in the next draft picks last, or what the Republicans would call punishing success.”
He then explained why baseball exemplifies the Republican philosophy, “Baseball, baseball on the other hand is exactly like the Republicans, and I don’t just mean it’s incredibly boring. I mean their economic theory is every man for himself. The small market Pittsburgh Steelers go to the Super Bowl more than anybody, but the Pittsburgh Pirates? Levi Johnston has sperm that will not grow up and live long enough to see the Pirates in a World Series. Their payroll is $40 million. The Yankees is $206 million. The Pirates have about as much chance of getting to the playoffs, as a poor black teenager from Newark has of becoming the CEO of Haliburton. That’s why people stop going to Pirate games in May, because if you’re not in the game, you become indifferent to the fate of the game, and maybe even get bitter, that’s what’s happening to the middle class in America.”
Maher concluded by pointing out the irony of the Obama haters loving the NFL, “So you kind of have to laugh that the same angry white males who hate Obama because he is redistributing wealth, just love football, a sport that succeeds because it does just that. To them, the NFL is American as hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet, and a second giant helping of apple pie, but then again, they think they’re macho because their sport is football, when honestly is there anything gayer than wearing another man’s shirt?”
The irony is quite delicious that the same Fox News watching crowd who decry Obama’s imaginary socialism will be glued to their televisions next Sunday watching an event that is the nation’s biggest tribute to the effectiveness of socialism. Under a system similar to baseball, the chances of a Steelers/Packers Super Bowl would be about the same as a Pirates/Royals World Series. Much like the Republicans, defenders of the baseball model will point to the exception to the norm. The year that Small Market Team X made the World Series, usually the Tampa Bay Rays.
This rationale ignores the systemic problem that this model causes for baseball and by extension the problems that the Republican economic theory causes for America. The reason why nobody watches the World Series in comparison to the Super Bowl is that their teams had no shot at making it to the World Series. When people don’t think they have a chance of making it to the top, they no longer care about outcome. Like the Republicans, baseball sells their version of the American Dream to small market teams, but they keep an economic system in place that makes the dream almost impossible to reach and maintain.
Much like what America is becoming, there is no middle class in baseball. There are haves and have nots. The NFL much like Democratic ideology appeals to so many Americans because it believes that those at the bottom should have the opportunity and chance to reach the top. Whether they get there or not is up to the individual, and their own efforts, but the path should not be closed off to them due to economic circumstances.
As we sit in living across America and enjoy the de facto national holiday that is the Super Bowl next Sunday, at some point you may want to lean over and remind your Obama hating friend/relative that they are enjoying a holiday that is a tribute to socialism. Ask yourself, if the NFL can succeed with rules and a system that creates opportunity for all, why can’t America? After all, isn’t opportunity for all what the American Dream is supposed to be about?