Today’s politics can be exhausting for even the most dedicated political junkie. Here’s a reprieve: Watch Football.
Football and politics are two of the most encouraged, popular, and accessible pastimes at the University of Georgia. Outside of a premier education, UGA offers to its students a world-class game day experience, as well as several groups and activities that encourage and facilitate (usually) thoughtful political discourse. Aside from sharing a level of passion and intensity, these things would otherwise seem to be ultimately dissimilar and unrelated. However, football and the pageantry surrounding it offer an effective antidote to an increasingly toxic feature of politics: tribalism.
Modern politics often breed the sacrifice of principles in favor of votes and political support. Discourse frequently suffers when supporters place their candidates and narratives above criticism and ignore their shortcomings in the spirit of loyalty and victory at all costs. This type of tribalism is simply an inherent ailment of the human condition, and it has the unfortunate tendency to blind us from right and wrong, or even from our own best interests when it comes to politics and voting. Voting research often times goes no deeper than the distinction between an “R” or a “D” and some public figures find themselves beyond criticism from their base, lest the other side gain an upper hand.
This phenomenon is obviously an illness to politics, but it also victimizes truth. If citizens are unable to maintain their principles and values for fear of criticizing someone in their tribe, they corrupt their own character. Abstaining from criticism when it is due is no better than lying, especially when it is in the name of mindless factional defense. This results in the compromising of the original principles around which the tribe was formed, and a redoubtable perversion of good intentions.
Since humans are inherently tribal, it might be worthwhile to just shut it all down and revert to dwelling in caves, right?
Maybe. But a less radical and perhaps more practical (definitely more enjoyable) option is this: get into football, especially SEC football, and even more specifically Georgia football. In this way, we can channel our tribal tendencies toward something that millions of Americans enjoy, and that doesn’t do as much damage as, oh I don’t know, electing a candidate with shaky principles or a history of corruption just to get one over on the opposing side.
There are few other theatres of human endeavor which encourage such blind and rabid loyalty as SEC football fandom. It strengthens the brand as well as the community. While political tribalism corrupts our nation and its values, unwavering support for the Georgia Bulldogs has helped to make Athens a much more solid community. Athenians are surely a diverse bunch, and football has proven for well over a century that it is the great mediator; that people (outside of our beloved contingent of contrarian hipsters) can put aside their differences to support the Bulldogs and to share in disdain for other schools, who will always be reviled. The same can be said for Oxford, Knoxville, Gainesville and the like with their respective schools.
Even if they dispense with the tribalist psychology behind this case, political junkies and advocates should turn themselves on to football, at the very least because it could help them chill out for a bit. It can be an exhausting, seemingly Sisyphean struggle to constantly have to hold power-hungry politicians accountable in a dishonest time. But when that inevitably begins to wear on our patience, it can be refreshing to stage a sort of tactical retreat to a world where the truth is where you align yourself. For instance, we here at The Arch Conservative know for a fact that no matter what some committee says or what happens on some football field, the Georgia Bulldogs are, and always will be, number one; and whichever team we play this week is the absolute scum of the earth, not worth the breath they suck into their greedy lungs. Because we say so.
This piece appears under the same name in the Winter edition of The Arch Conservative in print.
— J. Thomas Perdue is Associate Editor of and Sarah Montgomery is Manager of The Arch Conservative.