Don't rile the Gators, Nancy Pelosi!

A Florida Republican asks the speaker to postpone some congressional votes so he can go to the college football championship game.

By Andrew Leonard

Published January 7, 2009 6:52PM (EST)

I went to high school in Gainesville, Fla., home to the mighty University of Florida Gators, who will be seeking their third national college football championship on Thursday night in Miami. My mother and stepfather have season tickets, a bottle-opener that plays the Gator fight song every time you pop open a brew, and a DVD of the last 100 years of Florida football. Just this past Christmas, my brother gave me a Percy Harvin jersey that I'm wearing right now in honor of this blog post (and also because it gives me superhuman powers to type really fast).

I tell you all this to provide my readers with some important context before we all contemplate the request by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., asking Nancy Pelosi to postpone some congressional votes scheduled for Thursday night, so that he and some other representatives could attend the game. (A very special thanks to Amy Leonard, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, for bringing this important matter to my attention.)

Brendan Farrington from the Associated Press reports:

Stearns [whose district includes Gainesville] wrote, "As you may be aware, on Thursday January 8, the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma will play for the national football championship. Members of the Florida and Oklahoma delegations have expressed interest in attending the game as the congressional schedule allows. However, votes are currently scheduled to continue into Thursday night and Friday afternoon. We ask that you move these votes to either Wednesday and/or Thursday morning to allow Members to attend this historic game."

Seems reasonable enough, no? I mean, it's not like there's anything important on the schedule that day. Farrington reports that "Among the votes to be considered Thursday afternoon is certification of the Electoral College vote that gives Barack Obama the presidency." Come on! Florida and Oklahoma, two great football powers who amazingly both boast Heisman-trophy winning quarterbacks at their helm but have never played each other in all of recorded football history. How does certifying the election of the first black president even begin to compare?

But Nancy Pelosi said no. Perhaps we can blame her intransigence on the fact that she graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., an NCAA Division III school that doesn't even have a football team! So maybe she just doesn't understand how important college football is in Florida and Oklahoma. But I fear that she is making a grave mistake. Not only is she contributing to the stereotype of San Francisco Bay Area Democrats as un-American haters of all that is good and great about the gridiron (left-leaning 49er, Raider and Cal Bear fans excepted) but she's also not thinking strategically. Sure, Oklahoma is never going to come into the Democratic fold, but Florida is the ultimate swing state! Don't disrespect the Gators, Nancy! It'll come back to chomp ya.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Football Globalization How The World Works Nancy Pelosi