Let the Games Begin

Duke is the king of NCAA basketball.  Spring football is giving a tantalizing hint to the fans of Southern college football.  Baseball is off to a quiet start, but is giving a predictable buzz to those that still consider this sport “America’s Game”.    
Given the way that soccer is expanding in our schools, it is clearly becoming a top tier sport in this country.  A photogenic 21 year old wins the most prestigious of all golf tournaments, the Masters, last weekend.  It was never even close.     
There is a sport, however, that touches all of us.  We may not participate, follow it on television, or give any opinions, but it is there in our face every day.  Of course, I am talking about the game of electing the next President of the United States.   
While some may argue that the presidential election games started this week with two more announcements, the fact is politics is a sport that never ends.  The 2016 election and the likely participants were mostly in play before the final votes had been counted in 2012.  
Announced candidates include Hilary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.  There will certainly be more to join them, at least on the Republican side.  Those that have already formed a Political Action Committee or PAC, include Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and heaven forbid, Donald Trump.
Of the four announced candidates, two are Hispanic and one is a woman.  Two weren’t even born when JFK was assassinated and would have no memory of Vietnam.  One is almost a decade older than I am.   
Clinton announced her candidacy with a Tweet, which was promptly shared by over three million people worldwide.  She is currently riding in a van on her way to Iowa, because she is supposedly just a regular person like us.   Look for wholesale makeovers of all the candidates as they try to tap into the younger voters and the growing ethnic populations.
Iowa is the current ground zero for presidential politics.  Every coffee shop with more than a half dozen customers can expect several visits in person by the candidates over the next few weeks.
It is estimated the various campaigns, including the general campaign next year, will cost more than Obama and Romney spent in 2012.  We are talking billion$ with a “B”.  Makes you wonder why we can’t fix a local problem or two by sharing just a tiny bit of that money.
It won’t be enough to turn off your television this election.  Facebook, Twitter, and a whole host of social media platforms will carry messages to your phone day and night.  Your mailbox will begin to fill up with mailings because you have been targeted in some fashion as a likely voter for one of the candidates.  Even the news will begin to sound more and more like commercials for the candidate that made the best soundbite of the day.
If you give $20 to a candidate, you will have 10 times that amount spent by campaigns trying to convince you to give $20 more.  Studies have shown that a voter that has contributed even the smallest amount becomes emotionally invested in that candidate.
By next November, as the games finally wind down to a close, Americans will hopefully have been given enough good information to make up their minds and select the next great President of the United States.  It is a very long game and no sport has higher stakes.
Like the process or not, it is still the best system in the world.   Let the games begin.
o0o
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

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