Monday, November 22, 2010

The Big Game: Easton vs. PBurg Thanksgiving Football Game is the Biggest Draw in Town

Now if we could only get this many people to vote...

Posted by: Noel Jones

I am not a sports fan, but there is something cool about this upcoming game. 

I am not a sports fan in general, because watching sports makes me jealous--I would rather be running around playing, than watching someone else run around and play. In particular, I don't understand having a passion for watching professional sports, when team members are traded as if they are owned, to move from one city to another in a game that sometimes sounds a lot more like a game of cards than a sport. Of course, players are compensated lavishly, so I don't feel sorry for them when they are stacked and slid across the table like so many poker chips, I simply feel uninspired to cheer for them, and in particular don't understand how one can muster "team spirit" around a team made up of people who are not even from the city that fans are cheering for. 

College sports are different, because at least everyone playing is from the same college, so instead of cheering for a city, students are cheering for their college, and adults for their alma mater. But even then, when someone screams the name of a city from the stands, they are screaming for people who are not from that city, and likely are not from that city themselves. So it is still a bit odd.

The only team spirit that truly makes sense to me, is team spirit for high school teams, because on a high school team, you are truly cheering for your town--everyone on the team is from your town, and it

is the youth of your town that you are cheering on. Chances are you know some of these kids personally, and if not the kids, then fans at the very least have a personal relationship with the town they are cheering for.

Growing up in rural Alaska, we had only one form of entertainment--an outdoor Olympic-sized hockey rink, with waist-high wooden boards around it. We didn't even have plexi-glass guards above the walls until someone finally got hit in the head with a puck and had to go to the hospital. Everyone tried out for the team, and the entire community bundled up and stood around the boards to watch in temperatures as cold as 20 below zero (games were called off if it got colder than that). Those kids lived, ate and breathed hockey. I'm sure some of them slept with their hockey sticks. Everyone from pipeline workers to the librarian knew every play from every period of every game the next day. It was all the buzz. It was all there was. And the spirit was real.

I'm considering going to the Easton/Pburg Thanksgiving game this year, because I have heard that approximately 15,000 people show up to these games, and I think that's really cool, because people really are coming out to cheer for their own youth and their own towns.

When I was in junior high, we moved to a fishing town that was much less remote, and had a population of 15,000 people spread over a land mass the size of Los Angeles. So we were still pretty small and very spread out, but we had public electricity and running water and could access grocery stores every day instead of once a month. We had fast food joints and a mall and other places where people could meet up and socialize, and we had a broader range of sports, rather than just hockey. The town was still very passionate about its sporting events though, and I remember how much it meant to me when I was running track and cross country, to hear people from the community cheer for me along the way.

Sarah Wojcik reports in today that three sisters from Phillipsburg will get to cheerlead at the big Thanksgiving Day game--two twins and a little sister, and you can tell from the interviews of the girls and their mom, that it is going to be one of the highlights of their lives. The Easton/PBurg rivalry is apparently famous nationwide, and has even been televised on ESPN.

Wojcik gives us a sense of the historic significance of this annual match...
"This year's battle between the Stateliners and Red Rovers will be the 104th meeting of one of the most celebrated high school rivalries in the country.
Easton owns a 58-40-5 advantage in the series, coming away victorious in the past four Thanksgiving Day games."
...and then there's this quote from the mother of the three sister cheerleaders:
"'I feel proud and I feel grateful that they can be part of something bigger than themselves...It means a lot to all of us.'"
Regardless who wins this Thursday, it's clear that everyone involved will be getting a genuine dose of real team spirit this Thanksgiving, and anything that pulls that much community together has to be a good thing.

What I wonder is, what has to happen for our community to pull together in these numbers over other important sprucing up a neighborhood, reducing crime, or voting? When it comes to being "part of something bigger than ourselves," that is, in a sense, the definition of community. How about making that a year-round sense of spirit for our town? 



noel jones said...

By the way--I couldn't find the time or location of the game in this ET article--is it always held at the same time and place every year? If someone could post that info for the newcomers, that would be great.

tachitup said...

As usual, the game is at Lafayette College's Fisher Field at 10:30am. Get there early - expect to park a quarter mile away - the tail-gating is a show in itself.

Anonymous said...

one of the greatest traditions in our city. It's more than a game, it's a happening and 20,000 people will be there.

noel jones said...

Thanks, tachitup! Anon 9:10--20,000-really? That's amazing--I think the city of Easton's entire population is 28,000, right?

Anonymous said...

26,361 last estimate from US Census, waiting for actual numbers.

noel jones said...

Thanks for the stats, Anon.

That means that the attendance for this game is roughly 77% of the population of Easton! Even if we assume that half of those attendees are from Phillipsburg, that still means that 1/3 of Easton's entire population attends this game.

I find this incredible, and a stark contrast to the number of people who vote in the local elections that directly affect their quality of life in this city.

Does anyone have those numbers? How many Easton residents are registered to vote, and how many of those registered voters voted in the last two elections (midterms, and the local election)?

I believe the last local election pulled under 7% of REGISTERED VOTERS (not 7% of the population), but that the midterms pulled a much higher percentage. If anyone who worked on the midterm elections has these numbers that would be great to know.

I'm happy to say that I am going to this game with two friends--I'm excited!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget estimates for Palmer at 20,516 and Forks at 14,483. Together both are larger than Easton. Palmer is estimated to surpass Easton in pop in the next ten years.

tachitup said...

Mid-term turnout.....

tachitup said...

try again -

Anonymous said...

amazing you still think your vote has any value.

noel jones said...

tachitup--thanks for the link but i tried it and got an error message that the page was not available...?

Anon 7:56--no one can tell me that the vote of the people doesn't matter. are elections rigged to a certain extent? i believe so. are districts moved around to the advantage of certain parties to manipulate the number of representatives. surely. are machines occasionally sabotaged? i'm afraid so. are certain groups of people tricked or bullied into not voting in certain counties of certain states? absolutely. but no one can tell me that the vote of the people does not still count or Barak Obama would not have been able to win. same with certain Tea Party candidates that the Republican party did not want to win. the will of the People still counts, it's just that they only win when they can muster enough votes for a healthy margin, so that when you subtract all the cheating, the People still win. the People cannot and MUST NEVER allow a race to be close or we will lose.

i have voted in every election in Easton since I moved here at the end of 2006. only once have i seen a line of over 60 people waiting to vote, and that was the presidential election in 2008.

the idea that the vote of the People doesn't count is cynical and dangerous to democracy because those that would rig the system are counting on cynicism and voter apathy to make the elections easier to manipulate.

cynicism is lazy--it is an excuse to not get involved. but it is very dangerous because it is the decisions of our elected officials that effect the quality of our everyday lives, and if we give up our right to affect who makes those decisions, we are just giving up and offering ourselves up as lambs to the slaughter.

for example, if more Americans (myself included) were paying attention in 2005 when Dick Cheney exempted Big Gas from the Clean Water Act, just before they all started drilling in the Marcellus Shale out West, people would have been calling and writing to Congress and threatening not to vote for anyone who didn't put a stop to it. but we have become passive as a people--we lay back and consume, self-absorbed in our own entertainment as we have been taught to be, and we hand over our rights one by one...the right privacy and liberty...the right to uncontaminated water...the right to vote.

please get mad. please scream. please tell everyone to pay attention to what our elected officials are and are not doing, and PLEASE tell them to vote in EVERY election. when you vote, you have the power of one. when you convince 20 people to vote, you have the power of 20. 5 people that each convince 20 people is the power of 100. many elections in Easton are won with less than 100 votes.

it is our own laziness and our desire to focus on our own consumption and entertainment that steals our rights and ruins our quality of life. we have to own it, and change it ourselves. it is saying, "our vote doesn't count anyway" that gives us the excuse to stay home and play and not take responsibility for our own government. the government is OUR responsibility--we elect them, or sit home and allow them to get elected and make the decisions that dictate our quality of life--that dictate how well the economy is doing, for instance. the failing economy is the responsibility of the people who either voted for the people who caused it to crash (people that were bought off on both sides), or stayed home and didn't vote at all.

the 13,000+ Easton residents who will be at the football game tomorrow, could win any election in Northampton County any time they wanted to, if they wanted the same candidate to win. there is a lot of power there. they just have to get mad enough to wake up and use it. but as long as they all stay home watching TV and movies and sports and don't vote, they will continue to be powerless, and they will complain uselessly from the sidelines.

noel jones said...

tachitup--here is the error i'm getting when i try your link:

"Our site was recently updated and we cannot locate the URL that you have requested. Your bookmarks and favorites may not be correct.
From Server: NORTHWEB

Northampton County"

noel jones said...

ok, here's the county link of results for the last election:

if my math is right, it looks like Easton averaged a voter turnout of 32% of registered voters overall for the mid-term election.

according to the county site, if i have done this math correctly (please feel free to correct me) it looks like 9,601 people are registered in Easton, out of a population of 26,000+. now granted--a good chunk of the population is under 18 and couldn't vote if they wanted to. but 32% of 9,601 = just 3,072 people that called the shots for over 26,000--roughly 8.7% of the population.

50% of Easton's population is projected to attend this game. even if you say that half of those people will be under 18, that's still 25% that could vote.

so to recap:

number of residents to projected to watch football=13,000

the number of those likely eligible to vote=6,500 (if we assume that half are kids under 18)

number of residents who voted in mid-term election=3,072

number of residents who voted in our last local election (roughly 7%)=672

this is the current state of our democracy--the people have given up political power for personal fun and entertainment. or rather, our town gets its sense of community more from a football game, then it does for working together to revitalize the town.

many of these people who sit back and don't vote, feel free to complain loudly without keeping track of what's going on in their local (or national) political system or making a commitment to learn about the candidates and vote. this is the big question:



thought? ideas?

Anonymous said...

good quote from you there:
"the 13,000+ Easton residents who will be at the football game tomorrow, could win any election in Northampton County any time they wanted to, if they wanted the same candidate to win".
I'm sorry, but that sounds so inane. that's EXACTLY why the poitical system has failed! NO ONE agrees! you cannot boil down the views, desires and goals of a community to a choice between a few candidates!
this is true on the local and national level.
look what happens every election year:
one side works real hard to get their guy elected, they sling mud at the other side. he gets elected. the losing side then tries like mad to get their guy elected next time. by that time, people are unhappy with who they DID elect, so they vote in the other guy.
Obama won the presidency and was hailed like the second coming; barely 2 years later people are saying he won't do a 2nd term.
In PA, they switch parties every 8 years; 'oh, we got to get rid of the republicans, they stink!'(8 years later) man, these democrats are bad! lets vote republican!'
locally, a mayor can serve a couple of terms, then they decide he's terrible and get rid of him. but oh wait! he can come back again in a decade or so and he's great again!
the political system is BROKEN. maybe the people that realize that they can't change the broken system by participating in it are more content to enjoy a holiday watching a football game.
you should try it.

noel jones said...

are you seriously saying, "it's broke, so let's not fix it, lets watch football?"

as i said before, i am already going to be "enjoying the holiday and watching a football game," as you so sagely advise, but how that excuses anyone from participating in their democracy for the rest of the year is beyond me.

"the system is broken" is an excuse to be self-absorbed and goof off while your community goes down the drain. if you don't like what you see going on in our community and our country, blame yourself if you're not voting, because it's a nation of too many people with that mentality that have let it happen, and not only continue to let it happen, but go out of the way to insult other people who are voting to alleviate their own guilt.

we are not babies. or we shouldn't be, sitting around waiting for our government to take care of itself and us, as if it will automatically come by and stick a bottle in our mouths and change our diapers for us, without our ever having to work at thinking about the decisions they are making that directly effect our lives

it is an absolutely consumerist mentality to expect to sit around watching sports all day and then throw a tantrum when we walk out the door and don't like what we see. while we're watching TV, other people are gaining power.

it's time to grow up and take responsibility for this government of the People.

tachitup said...

Noël - You have let yourself become a victim of blogger-baiting. Some comments just scream to be ignored. Although anon 2:49 did state the change of tides well, his conclusions are, of course, ridiculous.
Sports fan and community involvement are not an either/or thing.....unless you're really lazy.
Personally, I'm glad we threw out the Democrat idiots. It's time to let the Republican idiots screw things up for a while.

I'm sorry to see that you couldn't post the link to election results either. Maybe folks will just have to type it in, keystroke by keystroke. Isn't there a way to post an active link?

Anonymous said...

you said:
"while we're watching TV, other people are gaining power".

who are those other people? others who you disagree with but who are equally passionate about their viewpoint?
so when THOSE people are 'gaining power" what will you be doing? actually trying to work with them, or trying to rally YOUR people to vote THEM out next election day?
choosing not to participate is NOT being lazy; it's realizing you can't clean the muck by getting down into the sewer.
the political machine's purpose is self-perpetuating; it has nothing to do with the people!
tachitup says I'm baiting; not really. I'm amazed to find such naive people who think they can 'make a difference'. show me where this has ever proved true.
everyone has a difference of opinion; you may fight to get your candidate elected to only have it undone by the other side.
that in itself, that primary truth, shows the system doesn't work.

noel jones said...

tachitup--as for "blogger-baiting" from anonymous posters, i am a lot of things, good and bad, but "victim" is not one of them.

however, if people cannot control the urge to use the blog to insult the blogger, rather than simply contributing new points to the discussion, this blogger will hold the mirror up. i rarely hold grudges--anyone who slips is welcome to jump back in with good points. i am all about moving the conversation forward, with all points of view represented if possible. it's boring if everybody agrees all the time.

the valid part of anon's comment is that there are a lot of people out there who are feeling disenfranchised by the system, if not downright cheated by it, and that leads to voter apathy, which, in my opinion, is one of our country's biggest problems right now--and why large corporations and special interest groups are free to run willy nilly over the individual. but if individuals lay down like doormats and don't even vote, we can't be surprised or get upset when we get walked on in this country, i.e., corrupt wall street bankers manipulating the real estate sector and political system for their own wealth until the entire economy collapses and millions of jobs are lost while taxes and health care premiums continue to go up, etc.

the active link within a comment is an issue i have never figured out (if you can believe it, i am quite a luddite--it's a miracle i figured out how to operate a blog at all), but i know that it is possible, because other commenters have posted with active links and i have wondered how they do it.

if you know how to do it, please let me know! (FYI--i am on a Mac--don't know if that matters...)

but i think that after the holiday i may do a separate post on voting stats, and then i can post the active link in the body of the main post, like i do with articles...they are important links to share--thanks for passing them on.

i learn from readers as much as anyone, so anyone who knows how to post active links inside a comments window, please let me know--thanks!

i'm looking forward to the big game tomorrow--i've charged my camera up so i can post pictures to the blog.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Cathy said...

anon 10:06 - your comment that its just people on different sides voting each other in and out is exactly how it should be. Things happen and people's minds change and so things change and history moves forward. But that is not what is happening in this country. Vast numbers of people are not paying attention and are not voting. Are they too good to get down in the muck? Are they too stressed out trying to survive? There was a time people died fighting for the right of a human being to be free. Now we fight on behalf of corporations and now corporations are owning us! We are indeed on a march back to the feudal age. I am so sad that yes I think you are right. Democracy doesn't work (in this place at this time.) But you are wrong to think this will not effect your private life and that it doesn't matter who gets elected. The people who died fighting for their rights already knew what you unfortunately have yet to find out.

noel jones said...

Anon 10:06--thanks for restating your points civilly, i appreciate that.

a few points:

1. don't get me wrong--i am in no way suggesting that the responsibility of a citizen ENDS with voting. for democracy to work for the People, the people have to vote their candidate in, and then stay in communication with them while staying current on the issues, to guide them as to how they need to represent us. simply voting is only a start--voting alone will not get us anywhere.

2. you asked me to name a time when voting made a difference, and i will ask you to indulge me here--the election of Barak Obama. now before anyone freaks out, let me say this--I am not saying that he has delivered all the change that was promised--the reason i think that his victory was critical, is that before 2008, our populace was EVEN MORE apathetic than it is now--the greatest importance of Obama's win, in my mind, is that a cynical, apathetic American population that had felt disenfranchised with ever-declining voter turnout, actually became convinced that they DID have power as voters. they used it, and they WON. had they lost, it would have been the final nail in the coffin of voters' faith that they had any power at all. now, some people may be disappointed with the results of that victory, but nothing changes the fact that Americans learned that they DID have the power. from that victory, and that resulting faith, sprang up a new ultra-engaged force among voters--the Tea Party. they may have voted against Obama in large majority, but what Obama's victory taught them, is that activating the population to engage in their democracy IS powerful--and now they are taking their turn wielding that power. for those that don't like the Tea Party, one thing you have to admit--those folks are passionately ENGAGED in participating in their democracy. they have made it a personal priority in their lives--above movies, above watching sports--they have re-prioritized their lives and made personal responsibility for their democracy #1. anyone who doesn't like what their pushing had better be ready to engage with as much energy and commitment.

noel jones said...

3. you asked "who are those other people" that i had referred to as "gaining power" while we are "watching TV". i am referring to all politicians, lobbyists, etc.--some are good, many are bad and our for their own gain. but this is my point. that people become good at anything they practice on a daily basis. if someone plays scales on an instrument every day and practicing playing high-speed Charlie Parker solos on a daily basis, chances are they will be a good jazz musician. if someone cooks every day, they will likely become a good cook. if someone works with a hammer every day, they will like have a knack for building and repair things. if you are in finance and/or business, and you are studying daily how to cut costs and maximize profits, you might become a successful businessman or financier. if you watch the news everyday, do research every day, and learn all you can about political office or lobbying every day, you will become very skilled at gaining power, or at least knowledgable about those who have gained power in this country, and can make an informed use of voting power.

i have encountered many people who say "i'm not into politics" as if it were a choice, or a hobby. as if because it can be boring and not the least bit fun or sexy oftentimes, that we can afford to ignore what the people gaining power in our country are doing. we cannot, because these people have direct control over the quality of our lives, and if we allow the wrong people--ones making decisions that are dangerous for every day Americans (like exempting gas drillers from the Clean Water Act)--to gain and hold power, we have no one but ourselves to blame, because we always have had the power to stop them, we are just often too easily distracted by our own pursuit of fun in our personal lives to take personal responsibility for the democracy we live in.

now, we have people with differing philosophies about what will help get our country on the right track, and that's ok--that's what good debates are made of. but what is not ok, and what is killing us, is when people become too attached to their perspectives to the extent that they become synonymous with each person's IDENTITY, because then people will fight to the death because they feel that they are fighting for SURVIVAL. we need to allow ourselves to be open and truly listen to and CONSIDER each others philosophies and perspectives, otherwise, we'll never be able to work together to find the best path out of this mess.

thanks for rejoining the conversation--feel free to disagree--it's a good discussion--and an important one.

cathy said...

Noel, please don't apologize for Barack Obama unless you do in fact feel he has in some way let us down. He has done remarkable things. It is corporate owned media that is working overtime to sell the disappointment to the people - most of whom dont have a clue what the President of the US's job entails. I only wish he would have prosecuted the criminals from the previous administration and on Wall Street and actually I think they are doing this somewhat its just that its "no drama Obama" and its in due time with due diligence and letting the process take place. Its amazing how we all feel the right to judge how a person is doing a job we actually know very little about. Even more sad are the one issue disappointeds who will throw the election to republicans out of spite and thus setting themselves back in more ways than one.

noel jones said...

cathy--not sure what you mean--i have made no apologies for the president.

if you are wondering why i would say that "i am not saying that he has delivered on all the change that was promised" one concrete example would be that health care premiums are currently higher than before the health care reform bill, and although it is now "law" that insurance companies cannot deny coverage, that law is backed up by insufficient fines and penalties that still make it more attractive for an insurer to deny coverage and take the fine than to cover a person with chronic or terminal illness.

the concrete improvement to come out of the health care reform bill is that dependent children can now be covered until age 26. but for those of us over 26, it is meaningless.

one major part of the message coming from the white house that i disagree with strongly is the equation of health INSURANCE to health CARE. insurance is not care. the idea that is getting pushed on us is that it is a crime that 40 million Americans are UNINSURED, rather than focusing on the number of Americans who can or cannot get CARE. mandating insurance coverage does nothing but penalize those too broke to afford it right now, while making insurers richer--if everyone is forced to buy insurance, the insurance companies get 40 million new customers. and having insurance does not guarantee coverage. all one need do to see this is to go on and compare plans. it is a good site in that it lays out what each policy will and won't cover in a pretty reader-friendly way--the cheapest policies covering very little and the more expensive policies covering more. so getting insurance--especially the cheapest insurance packages that the insurance companies have concocted, does not equal receiving the care needed.

also there is nothing in the bill that addresses Big Pharma's role in health care costs.

i still hope, however, that the bill will be amended in such a way as to have concrete results in the CARE available to struggling Americans. the machinations of washington take time.

so that is an example of change promised that has yet to arrive, and i understand why people are frustrated.

my point is that the most important result of the People electing Barak Obama is in the simple fact that they engaged, campaigned, voted and WON and now, whether they still like him or are disappointed in him, they know that they have the power to elect the leader of their choice. same with the recent Tea Party victories. the People are not powerLESS--they now know that they are powerFUL when they choose to use that power.

(by the way, the issue of health care reform will be highlighted in soon in a future post, as it is a critical topic with regard to our quality of life and sense of well-being).