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An uneasy collision of sport and politics

Last Sunday 97.5 million people — most of them intoxicated beyond all reasonable measure — watched the Death Star explode on national television.

I'm talking about the New York (football) Giants' stunning defeat of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with the game of football. Mostly I hate it because the announcers insist on calling the ball "the football" during the game. It's almost pathological.

A typical exchange:

"Wow. Eli Manning managed to escape while protecting the FOOTBALL and then threw a perfect pass down the FOOTBALL field."

"You're right. But also David Tyree made an incredible catch to extend this FOOTBALL game. I don't know how he managed to come down with the FOOTBALL."

Can't they just say "the ball"? We get it.

Love or hate the sport, there's no denying just how entertaining SB XLII was.

For that brisk three hours I forgot about the election, Britney Spears' trip to the loony bin, the writers' strike and deadline pressure.

It was a simple case of the underdog Giants rising up against the Evil Empire, which apparently has crept north to Boston after real estate prices in New York City drove out all the baddies.

Author Mark Ames argues that public opinion in this country is driven by spite. He says that middle America chooses to vote Republican and against its perceived self-interests just to spite the healthy-living, yoga-practicing, peace-loving, liberal elite on both coasts.

I agree.

Some would say the Patriots were hated because they were smug perfection personified. We wanted to see them lose because our lives are so chock full of failure and disappointment.

I say they were just too pretty. Yes, I just described large sweaty men as pretty, but it's true and you know it even if you're not man enough to admit it.

Tom Brady's prettiness is well documented, but his linemen and most of the defense are statuesque, too.

The offensive line, bearded as it is, brings sexy back to the mountain man look. And don't get me started on Junior Seau's stylish Havana hats. Good god, man, this is the Super Bowl, and you would do well to remember it is broadcast on Fox and not Bravo.

In their hearts, I know the Patriots wished they could take the field wearing gold-plated loincloths and red capes like the Spartans in "300." There probably would be a fine of some sort involved.

Just look at the Giants. Nothing pretty about that group. Eli Manning resembles nothing more than a young John Kerry, he of the hangdog face and downturned mouth. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress could play a Klingon in the upcoming "Star Trek" flick. He barely needs makeup.

Whatever sparked America's hatred became irrelevant after the game. The ugly little guy won and there was a noticeable spring in everyone's step afterward.

I ended my Super Bowl at an Ashland watering hole following an enjoyable Super Bowl party.

The entire bar was chatty and swilling Coors Light and huffing the brain cell-killing chemical solvent that is victory.

I was surprised at how many people there equated the Patriots' loss with a new beginning for the country after these tumultuous last seven years.

Is it crazy to think a Patriots defeat signals a new era in American history? Is it ridiculous to link sport and politics? Absolutely.

But if I'm wrong, then the outcome of Super Bowl XLII portends well for Barack Obama in 2008.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471 or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.