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Resolved: Football Protects the World from Fascist Politics.
It's easy to compare football and other organized sports with facist propaganda events like the Nuremburg Rallies. A superficial analysis often leads one to assume that football is our generation's equivilant of these rallies, and that organized sporting events dangerously mimic the right-wing politics of fascism. And sure, on the surface, there's a lot in common: chanting, cheering, singing songs of loyalty, bravado, matching outfits, common symbols. But to compare football to fascism is to confuse the medium with the message.
Football, in fact is the antidote to fascim. Fascism was successful in part because it tapped into people's inherent need to belong. Man wants to feel a part of something bigger; it wants to be part of a group that's unified both in favor of one group and against another; it wants to be on a winning team. Football allows people to satisfy those instincts, while channeling the energy created into something totally meaningless.
It's exhilarating to be surrounded by people who all believe and support the same thing; it's fun to sing the same songs and clap and cheer with hundreds of your closest friends. Fascism didn't create this; it co-opted it and used this instinct to promote an insidious agenda. Just as most Americans went to the Lincoln Douglas debates for entertainment and social purposes, most participants attended the Nuremburg rallies for the spectacle of it all. They went to the rallies because they were fun, because it was An Event, and because it gave them a reason to clap and cheer. Hitler and other fascist leaders captured and directed that energy towards evil.
In football, you get all the trappings of fascist rallies without any of the dangerous consequences. The sense of belonging that comes with identifying as an "us" versus a "them" is satisfied through cheering for your home team against it's various opponents. Wearing jerseys, waving flags, and buying a Redskins bumper sticker lets you affiliate yourself with a movement without having to do anything more than root for Washington on Sunday. The cheers, songs, and chants performed at the game add to the sense of togetherness. However, As soon as you step out of the stadium - even as soon as the game ends - the emotion and energy dissipates. Sure, you're upset for a few days after your team misses a shot at the playoffs, but you don't take it out on the fans of the opposite team; while you may "hate" Steelers fans, you don't spend your week actively plotting their demise - or standing idly by while the leaders of your football team does.