Op-Ed: Democracy Is a Participatory Sport; So Get in the Game and Vote

Actress Nikki DeLoach points out the importance of suiting up, showing up and casting your ballot.

MTV’s ‘Awkward’ mom Nikki DeLoach says it’s time to get off the couch and into the game. Go outside and vote. (Photo: Elisabeth Caren)

Oct 29, 2012

When I sat down to write this piece on the importance of voting, I immediately began listing off all the reasons why voting is a necessary action that cannot be overstated. However, most of us—including our non-voting citizens—have already been lectured about the various reasons of why we should vote.

By the way, I passionately support listing all of those arguments, from the historical fight for the right to vote, to the fact that many civil leaders, women, and soldiers died while securing this gift for themselves and for future generations, to the fact that some of this election cycle’s biggest issues (war, education funding, jobs, women’s reproductive rights, environmental concerns…) will directly effect the youth and therefore the future of our nation.

Still, I considered, “What line of reasoning could I possibly present that would encourage the non-voting percentage to get to the polls this election season?”

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Being the sports fan that I am, I immediately thought—football. That’s right, folks…football.

First of all, ’tis the season! Like millions of Americas, I too have football on the brain. Secondly, I also happen to be a sucker for sports analogies. Now, I know what you might be thinking—how could football possibly be a viable analogy for one of the most critical and fundamental aspects of our democratic process? 

Democracy is a participatory sport. Without players, there is no game. Furthermore, in order to have a balanced democracy, or a fair and balanced game, ALL players must show up and participate fully.

When you cast your vote at the polls, you are not just choosing a candidate; you are making a decision about issues that will affect not only your life, but also the lives of future generations.

I am going to use one of the NFL’s strongest teams this football season as an example for my analogy: the Houston Texans. The Texans quite possibly have the most balanced team in the NFL, with both a powerful and effective offense and defense. That is why they are leading the pack and are a Super Bowl favorite. While they do posses one of the greatest running backs in the NFL, Arian Foster, he couldn’t run the ball without the handoff from quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub would be incapable of that handoff, or of distributing the ball to talented wide receivers such as Andre Johnson, without the fortification of his offensive line.

The Texans also have one of the top five best defenses in the league. I could go on and on, but I believe you get the picture. The secret to the success of the Texans is the fact that each and every person on that team, both offense and defense, shows up and participates fully.

At the end of the day, each citizen in this country is on the same team—Team United States of America. Let’s say Republicans are the defense and Democrats are the offense (or vice versa). Either way, we need every team member, every citizen, to show up on Election Day and fully participate in this political Super Bowl.

Not to diminish the feelings of victory or loss that occurs at the end of an NFL game, but there is much more at stake in this Presidential election than fantasy football points. When you cast your vote at the polls, you are not just choosing a candidate; you are making a decision about issues that will affect not only your life, but also the lives of future generations. It’s your health care, education, environment, highways, social security, jobs and economy, your Supreme Court Justices, the reproductive issues of the women you know, and issues affecting LGBT people who are your neighbors and family members.

This is your life people! It’s your job, your responsibility, your privilege and your right. Don’t you want to be on the winning team? I want our country to be champions!

Again, democracy is a participatory sport. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Get out there. Play the game. Vote. Finally, at the end of this political Super Bowl, no matter the victor, we could all take a lesson in sportsmanship from those NFL players and shake each others hands and say, “Good game.”

What is your favorite reason for voting? Leave it in COMMENTS.

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