Politics can be important, but this weekend I didn’t pay attention to any of it. Not the debate in which Newt Gingrich got a standing ovation for punching back at the media. Not the pundits who talked about Mitt’s lack of substance on the stump. Not the polls in a state where the governor long ago endorsed the business acumen of Romney, but the people seemed to prefer another option.
I didn’t listen to the broo-ha-ha about Iowa in which a handful of votes has been turned into some sort of landslide upset. I didn’t scan the exit polling that showed the former speaker of the house putting his name on the board, and I definitely didn’t tune into ABC’s airing of that same speaker’s dirty laundry.
While I care passionately about the presidential election, this weekend, I was focused on doing more important things with my time.
You see, my son is a senior in high school. He plays rugby. His team needed chaperones to go on a tournament, and my husband and I volunteered to help out.
In one of two white vans packed tight with equipment, snack food, and rugby players who like to collide into one another on a regular basis for entertainment, we drove up I-85, straight through the Palmetto State in the heat of its primary contest, and into the heart of North Carolina.
For more than four hours one way, I listened to the chatter of testosterone-driven teenagers, which is similar at times to the chatter of the political classes: always passionate and opinionated whether or not anyone’s actually saying anything that moves the conversation forward.
Even so, under strict instructions to not act embarrassing, I bit my tongue when the boys commandeered the radio and blared Eminem at one thousand decibels. My ears had started bleeding, but I laughed out loud when another not-a-slim-shady-fan held his head as if in pain and yelled out to no one in particular, “We get it, Marshall Mathers! You grew up in a trailer park!” Continuing to echo my own silent sentiments about suffering through the classless music, he added, “It’s like I’m in Guantanamo Bay, people!”
But we endured the popular man of the moment until the crowd lost interest again. Oh, I was grateful—and amused--when someone else suggested we go in an entirely different direction and put in the reliably solid sounds of Johnny Cash instead.
So later I stood in the pouring rain and watched my boys in the heat of their contests: scrumming, mauling, driving heads straight into the ground. They had had a couple of great wins the weekend previous, so perhaps they had driven to the Carolinas a bit overconfident. Regardless, hubris turned into humility when their faces got rammed hard into the mud.
Come to think of it, our tournament turned out to be a bit like Romney’s interaction with Dixie voters. Not quite pleasant.
Sometimes you lose.
Rugby and politics are not sports for the meek.
In the early stages of the season, it only matters in the long run if you don’t learn from a defeat, if you don’t get back up and charge on.
As the radio got re-cranked--and I endured four more hours in a van with half a rugby team that hadn’t yet showered steaming up the windows—I might have thought a little bit about the Republican primary.
Of course, I wouldn’t have missed watching my kid for any politician’s race, but I’m looking ahead to seeing what will happen in Florida.
It’s anyone’s game, I think, and no one plays rugby on Tuesdays.