Sports, politics and our temporal society
Winningreen Discourse A040311
Temporal: of or relating to time, relating to or denoting time or tense — Oxford American Dictionary (among other definitions)
New: of recent origin or arrival, reinvigorated — Oxford American Dictionary (among other definitions)
By Tom Randall
Date: April 3, 2011
‘Temporal” and “new” have become closely related concepts in today’s world. New information has always been the way to get into individuals’ cognitive cycles and change perceptions. We have long known that in politics it is new information that moves voters. Now we are beginning to get glimpses of how the speed with which that new information is perceived to arrive is becoming a significant factor as well.
Of course this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Americans have become accustomed to new information coming at them with the virtual speed of light. It is no longer just young people who are texting while riding public transportation or walking down the street, bouncing between checking stocks, mail, news, sports and who knows what all with just pushes of buttons. Newspapers, with their declining circulations, have the same news as the news channels and the ubiquitous internet, but they deliver it much more slowly.
The big three of sports are now football, basketball and hockey, virtually nonstop games whose complexions can change in seconds. Baseball, the jock-scratching game of perpetual delay, once revered as the national pastime, is regarded as such by well under a third of Americans today.
NASCAR, once the fastest-growing entity in sport, has seen plummeting attendance. The sport has blamed falling attendance on the economy. This ignores the fact that the much more costly big-three sports are growing. More significantly, NASCAR fans who have stayed home seem reluctant to watch the sport on television — just ask the networks. The facts show that NASCAR races are twice as long as other sports — five to six hours — with nearly half of each race played under the slow-rolling “time-outs” known as caution flags.
Meanwhile, football, basketball and hockey have worked conscientiously to speed up their games, even struggling to make reviews of questionable calls faster. Hockey has every play of every game constantly under review in Toronto and the decision is generally made by the time the referee can skate over and pick up the phone.
Televised golf has seen a rebirth in popularity since the televisers covered the courses with dozens of cameras with so one shot follows another bringing nonstop action to what, in person, is a pretty slow sport. Except for the four major tournaments, does anyone watch tennis anymore?
Fast has certainly joined new is capturing attention. The speed of newness counts.
The political world was stunned by the speed with which Barack Obama’s newness overtook the electorate. The stunning speed with which McCain’s pick of the “newness” of his vice-president pick swept him into the lead and confused his opponent — all of which was lost when he “suspended” his campaign due to the financial crisis while Obama increased the speed of his campaign.
The speed with which the newness of the tea party movement spread across the electorate surprised politicians and strategists of both , as well as the pundits, and led to the biggest and most surprising gains of any party in the modern history of House elections.
We are now in the 2012 election cycle. It has come on faster than many had hoped. But, here it is.
Will the President be slowed by the burdens of his office or will he use its power to accelerate? Will his increasingly noticeable indecision become a factor or disappear as the campaign absorbs him?
Among Republicans...well...what Republicans? There are many, but none noted for speed. Only one has formally announced. He was third in fundraising last month among those who “might” run. Can the “older” politicians who make up the current field of possible candidates develop a nimbleness and speed they have not shown before? Or, is it time to persuade a younger, faster, newer candidate, all of whom have said they won’t run?
Time will tell. And, that’s just it. November 6, 2012 is coming fast.
Contact: Tom Randall