Topics to Avoid at Holiday Dinners: Politics, Religion, and Sports?

Last Friday was a pretty important day for New York Mets fans like yours truly. Johan Santana pitched the team’s first no-hitter after more than 50 years of waiting. I wept. But that’s not the only random thing that happened. Bill Maher became a minority stock holder in the team. I suppose it’s some sort of cosmic financial crisis thing: The Mets were burned badly by Bernie Madoff and Maher was taken to the portfolio woodshed by Lehman Brothers. For fans of the team, this should have been nothing short of an “amazin” evening. History was made and needed financial capital was brought into the fold. There’s only one problem: I had no idea how much people despised Bill Maher.

I understand that religion is and will likely always be of paramount importance to Americans. I’ve come to grudgingly accept this. But just because Freedom of Religion is a right doesn’t mean it is right. Bill Maher would probably laugh at his haters calling him the A-word – atheist – because he wears that A with pride. And he should. That’s his right. Just as it is his right to buy a portion of a sports team. Just as it was Rush Limbaugh’s right to attempt to buy a part of a sports franchise. A person’s politics, faith, or lack thereof should have no impact on investment decisions.

But of course this is 2012. There are no real separations of church, state or even sports any longer. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the comments section of two diametrically and philosophically opposed publications – The Huffington Post and the New York Post.

In HuffPo, Maher’s purchase was met with cheers. You could almost hear the champagne corks popping. By contrast, Murdoch-land readers were vomiting in their mouths. I didn’t know someone could be loathed as much as Osama bin Laden. You learn something new every day.

It’s all rather comical and sad. Sport, specifically baseball, has always been a great national healer. From the days of ballplayers fighting in World Wars to Mike Piazza hitting a home run for the Mets on 9-21, the first New York baseball game after September 11th, it seemed like sports could stem the tide of political partisanship. Apparently the glory days might be over.