Not much different, if at all, from fighters who have become particularly deft in the social media world. They make their claims for an opponent, or go after an opponent hoping they will respond. It creates interest, excitement, chat room chatters, and most importantly people showing up to see the fight. Or at least enough people clamoring for the hyped up hypothetical showdown that it becomes a reality.
That politics and fighting often mirror each other in their approach to a major event, is the American way. The term ‘throw your hat into the ring,’ originated around the early 19th century at boxing matches. In those wide open days, if you were confident enough in your own ability to take on the man who had been fighting, or you were seeking someone out to fight, you would throw your hat into the ring. It would be picked up and you would be acknowledged as the next contender. In 1904 it has been reported, the brash and occasionally pugilistic Theodore Roosevelt–the founder of the famed Rough Riders after all in the war with Spain in 1898– is to have said “my hat’s in the ring” when he ran for re-election for President. It was a simple, straight forward remark, easily understood that he was ready for a challenge. By that time, it was common knowledge what the phrase meant from boxing fans to casual observers, this was serious.
Politicians have been throwing their figurative hats into the ring and slinging mud even before those phrases were popular. It has always seemed best to degrade the other person as much as you were talking about your own virtues of being the right person for the job. Basically “I’m really good and that other guy is terrible and can’t be trusted and anything else I can throw at him.”
It has carried on in sports for more than a century this attitude of baiting an opponent, crawling inside their mind as deep as possible, is often as good as defeating them in the ring or field. From Ali’s “I am the greatest” to Joe Namath’s “I guarantee it,” before the heavily underdog Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, taunting your foe is a given almost. And to mess with one’s psyche is often a large step toward stepping all over them when the actual competition commences. What can be perceived as negativity is many times a positive. The bolder the better. It draws attention, name recognition and again an audience.
So for all the hyperbole surrounding an upcoming or hoped for MMA contest created by a fighter that might seem to cross a line or two or three, maybe they are just showing—even if they aren’t from here–that good old American spirit of flamboyancy and propaganda. It’s tough to win elections without it. The best thing about all the Tweets or Instagrams of the fighter’s hoopla is eventually they will have to settle it toe-to-toe the most impartial way, something that can never ben done in the voting booth.
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