The prospect of the New England Patriots capping a historic undefeated season with a victory in the Super Bowl this Sunday in Arizona already has officials discussing plans for a possible victory parade next week. Such a celebration, the Boston Globe reports this morning, would have to take place next Tuesday because players evidently couldn't make it back to Boston for a Monday parade and eight of them must leave on Wednesday for Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl the following Sunday. But Tuesday also happens to be the date when Massachusetts voters (along with those in 21 other states) cast ballots in the presidential primary, raising concerns about whether hundreds of thousands of Patriots fans crowding the streets of downtown Boston might pose an obstacle to those trying to get to polling locations at Boston City Hall, the State House, and the main Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The state's chief election official, Secretary of State Bill Galvin, suggests that voting rights must come before any exercise of bragging rights:
"With all due respect to the New England Patriots - and I wish them well; I hope they win - holding the election of the next president of the United States is a little more important," said Galvin, who has been overseeing the Boston Election Department since dozens of precincts ran out of ballots in November 2006.
But Patriots mania seems to have a hold on others who perhaps ought to be sharing Galvin's concerns. "You can't have a parade without the players," Mayor Tom Menino told the Globe, explaining why Tuesday must be parade day. Thomas Patterson, an election specialist at Harvard's Kennedy School, even gamely suggests that a parade could boost voter turnout. "Being out and being in a crowd with people talking about the election and voting may in fact help spread the word," Patterson said. Uh huh.
Maybe a parade won't interfere with the primary (and of course if the Patriots lose there won't be a parade at all), but it seems like there's enough concern that the mayor should declare that any parade will have to wait until Wednesday. Patriots owner Bob Kraft could even charter a private jet to whisk the eight players off to Hawaii immediately after a Wednesday parade. You wouldn't think it's asking too much for a handful of football players to adjust their schedule a little to allow democracy to proceed unimpeded. But evidently it is.
It is not only here, however, that football seems to be winning out over the minutiae of electing a new president. This entry from a Houston Chronicle blog suggests the newspaper is similarly clear about its priorities, with pass patterns and point spreads deemed more worthy of coverage than the mundane matter of presidential succession.