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Opinion

Minn. holds unpredictable ride in politics, sports

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October 28, 2011

There are two things that can drive a person in the Midwest, or anywhere, to the point of insanity: sports and politics. While each region or territory will have distinguishable traits about their political culture and cheering mantra; when taken to a more decentralized local level, one can’t help but notice the qualms and quirks that surround the Minnesota sports and political arena.

It is only fitting that Minnesota would be the state to have its Metrodome roof collapse along with our hope of a major sporting title. It is only more fitting that the only Minnesota championship I can remember is the WNBA Championship that the Lynx brought to Minnesota this year. (I was not even age one when the Twins won the World Series in 1991.) And it is the sharpest dagger that our greatest hope for victory in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau cannot avoid the injury bug for more than a week. Due to limited playing time stemming from injuries, Mauer and Morneau combined for seven home runs in 2011. Between Mauer making $23 million and Morneau $13 million, it comes out to over $5 million per home run.

Only in Minnesota will you have a professional sports team that leads the NFL in arrests since 2000.

According to an article in the Pioneer Press from Oct. 25, with the arrest of cornerback Chris Cook, the Vikings have passed the Cincinnati Bengals for the most arrests in the NFL since 2000 with 36. The Bengals have 35. Cook was arrested for choking his girlfriend and sat in a Hennepin County jail while his team was taking on division foe Green Bay on Oct. 23. To top it off, Cook’s arrest was not even the biggest story stemming from the Packers game; that title belongs to Brian Robison whose kick to the groin of Packer TJ Lang was caught on national television.

But the rivalry and bitter divide is not limited to the playing field and sporting events. Minnesota’s politicians have had their fair share of national attention as well.

Only in Minnesota will you have the most polarizing of politicians. Where else can you boast that you have someone like Al Franken as your Senator, and Michele Bachmann as not only your congresswoman, but a presidential candidate as well? My only wish is that Bachmann will hold off her bid to run for Senate in 2012 so she can run when Franken is up for reelection in 2014. Can’t you already see the jokes on SNL? Even though we are in Wisconsin, I would be willing to bet that more students know who Franken is than those who know who Ron Johnson is. (Johnson is the freshman Senator from Wisconsin who defeated Russ Feingold in the 2010 election.) To make it even more locally, I would be willing to bet that more people know who Bachmann is than Ron Kind, who is our congressman in Wisconsin’s third district. That may be an unfair question though, as Bachmann is running for president and has received a substantial amount of press. But it is more of the mentality that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease,” or the politician with the loudest mouth will get the spotlight on national TV.

However, what makes these quirks in Minnesota politics so strange, is that if you look at Minnesota politics over the years, you will find that the average Minnesotan’s political values are not as extreme or as polarizing as Franken and Bachmann make us out to be. In fact, Minnesota is one of the few states where an independent or third party candidate would actually stand a chance, or where a presidential candidate will come to campaign because our culture is not set in stone or as predictable as say Alabama or New York. Remember when everywhere you looked you could see a bumper sticker that said, “my governor can beat up yours,” during the Jesse Ventura days?

Take it as you may, but I believe that it is the cold winters, the brash and outlandish candidates and the unpredictable sporting world that makes us Minnesotans thick-skinned. We don’t buy ourselves championships like New York, and we don’t flee to neighboring states when the going gets tough like Wisconsin. We grind it out and vote for presidential candidates even when the entire rest of the country votes for the other like in 1984, and we attract older quarterbacks and home run hitters who give us a flicker of hope, and a moment to be a part of history. We may not have a Lombardi Trophy, but we did have a governor who could challenge Clay Mathews to a boxing match.

Things have not always been pretty or gone according to plan, but if you asked me if I had to do it all over again, would I still want to call Minnesota home? I would proudly answer, “ya, sure, you betcha!”

Ashley Goettl is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the Student Voice from fall semester 2011 to spring semester 2013.