What I learned about presidential politics watching the Rose Bowl

What I learned about presidential politics watching the Rose Bowl

When the University of Michigan Wolverines beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 27-20 in an overtime Rose Bowl thriller earlier this week, they did more than secure a berth in the national championship next week: They defied historic norms, beat the media’s conventional wisdom, and made history amid a rapidly changing landscape. Sound familiar?

That’s right, I’m about to pen a piece crafting an analogy between one of my favorite escapes—watching Michigan football—and the fraught presidential election year on which we are embarking. And while the venues are distinctly different, several common threads run through sports and politics that are worth being mindful of this year. If you’re a sports fan of any kind, this should be fun for you. If not, please allow me a point of personal privilege.

For the uninitiated, Michigan’s Rose Bowl rival, Alabama, led by coaching legend Nick Saban, isn’t just any college football team—it’s the football team of the new millennium. In the past decade alone, Saban’s Alabama team has won seven Southeastern Conference titles and four national championships, making it likely the best 10-year run of any major-college football team for over half a century. In the 2020 Citrus Bowl, Alabama trounced Michigan, which is led by Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, 35-16.

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