The Most Dangerous Game

UPDATE: LSU lost… but so did the Redskins. Things just took a turn, friends.

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We are just a few days away from the big election.
That seems like an odd thing for a sports post to say, doesn’t it? Well, some of you may know by now (the newsroom where I work knows, and they sort of regret knowing this now) that politics is my favorite sport. I am an addict when it comes to that. But, this being a sports post and me being a sports editor, this column is all about sports. And, luckily, politics.
Weird things happen all the time, and we don’t always know why or how. Sports is full of freak accidents and “coincidences,” so this should really come as no surprise: sports can often predict a political outcome.
Now, whether it’s a huge coincidence or not, these things totally happen. Take LSU vs. Alabama. Historically, if Alabama wins in an election year, the Democrats win the presidency, with an LSU win meaning a Republican victory for the White House. This pattern extends all the way back to 1984. That is seven previous elections.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale not too long after LSU beat Alabama 16-14. Four years later, LSU scraped by the Tide again, this time 19-18, in the same year George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis. The Tide and Bill Clinton both won four years later.
It gets weirder, though. Let’s head to Washington to check out the Redskins.
When it comes to presidential elections, the Redskins are famous enough to have their own rule. You see, when the Redskins win their last home game before an election, that means the party in power will win. When they lose, the party in power loses.
This one, depending on your interpretation, has a nearly perfect record. That “nearly” came in 2004, but we’ll get there in a bit.
The Redskins Rule’s accuracy can be traced back to 1934, which actually predates the team as we know it – they played in Boston at the time. Nonetheless, they won, which kept Franklin D. Roosavelt in power. That streak carried on until 2004, as previously mentioned, and some would argue that the record is technically perfect (right now, it’s listed as 19-18).
The 1976 Redskins only lost two games at home all year, but one of those two losses was right before election day, and Republican incumbent lost and Democrats took back the presidency.
In 2004, the Redskins lost to the Green Bay Packers, which should have meant that the Republicans lost the Oval Office, but they didn’t. Steve Hirdt, the guy who came up with this whole Redskins Rule theory, says if you make it about who won the popular vote in the last election as opposed to the party in power, all of a sudden, it’s a perfect record.
The Redskins play at home this weekend against the Carolina Panthers, and because their opponent is the Carolina Panthers, you can bet the Carolina Panthers are going to cost the Republicans their shot at defeating the incumbent Democrats. This may be the one time I really hope Cam Newton pulls one off.
These are just really coincidences, and eventually they will be disproven, but it’s kind of freaky, you know? It’s kind of like the superstition that the Superbowl determines how the stock market does that year (or you can reverse that if you wish). People are naturally superstitious.
As Snopes.com (which, by the way, is a great website that will also tell you that spam e-mail you got is a lie) puts it, these beliefs are just our little psychological way of controlling or understanding what’s going on around us.

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