Veronica With Four Eyes

How Watching The Senate Debate Healthcare Is Like Watching Football

Over the last few months, there have been many bills introduced where the Senate debates healthcare. These bills were created to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and drop protections for people with pre-existing conditions, disabilities, and long term illnesses. All types of people are affected by these new rules, with a large percentage being children and seniors.

Since I have a pre-existing (congenital) condition, I have been following coverage of these healthcare bills. I’ve been watching the news, reading articles online, and following senators on Twitter. As I reflected on this, I thought about how I am following the healthcare debates much like a fan would follow a football game. Here are some of the parallels I noticed.

Meet the players

A football team has eleven players, with two teams playing at each game. Fans frequently talk about their favorite players, study different playing techniques, and watch what they do on the field.

In the US Senate (as of 2017), there are 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independents that hold the Senate seats. There are two Senators from each state, and each of them has their own unique way of approaching issues. Citizens can follow their favorite senators on social media and learn more about their stances on issues, watching how they vote.

The ball

The football is an oval-shaped ball that is guarded by the players, particularly the quarterback. It’s easy to throw around, and it can seem like it doesn’t carry a lot of weight, especially for those not familiar with it.

A bill is a document that is guarded by senators, particularly the senator who is backing the bill. The bills can seem like they are easy to throw around, with no real consequence. With the proposed healthcare bills, millions of American lives are on the line. These bills carry quite a bit of weight!

The point of the game

The goal of football is to protect the ball from the other team and to score touchdowns. The opposing team will try to take possession of the ball, keeping the other team from scoring. The players will put up a fight to make sure the other team does not get the ball.

The goal of the Senate when debating and passing bills is to get as many votes as possible on a bill. The senators who are in favor of the bill will do everything they can to make sure the bill passes. The senators who oppose the bill will often put up a fight with the others, trying to make sure the bill does not pass.

Possessing the ball

When a player is in possession of the ball, they instantly become the person with the most eyes on them. They have to think of a strategy to protect the ball from the opposing team, and work with their teammates to come up with a plan. Of course, no one can have the ball for the entire game, but the team will work together to have control of the ball.

When a senator is in possession of the bill, they instantly become the person with the most eyes on them, often stirring controversy as a result. They think of strategies to protect the bill, and get help from fellow party members. Their goal is to protect the bill from the senators who oppose it.

Home field advantage

When a team plays a game on their own field, they have a home field advantage- they know how to navigate the field, since they practice there so often. This doesn’t mean that a team will win automatically, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

The Republican senators have an advantage when proposing a new bill, since the majority of the seats are taken up by Republicans at the moment. This doesn’t mean that every senator is in favor of whatever bill is brought up, but it is easier to get support from the majority.

Following the game

As a football game is broadcast, fans will often follow along on social media, seeing what others have to say about the game. They will try to predict what will happen next, or talk about how players on their team are doing throughout the game.

When a new debate begins, many citizens will follow along on social media, seeing what others have to say about it, and gathering more facts. They will try to predict who will vote yes or no on a bill, voicing their approval or disapproval on different votes. They will follow senators from their political party and/or home state closely.

Where will it go?

No one can predict with certainty where a ball will go to, or how someone will handle it when it is in their possession. There are many factors that can predict what will happen, but someone can still swoop in and take the ball from whoever had it before.

While some senators are predictable on certain issues, there have been many times when they take an unexpected stand on an issue. One example of this is with John McCain, who came out against the proposed healthcare bill in July, even though many expected him to vote in favor of it.


Every time a player scores a touchdown, it’s a small victory for fans of the team. ALternatively, it’s a small worry for fans of the other team. The more touchdowns a team gets, the more likely they are to win- after all, the team with the most points is the one who wins.

When a senator votes yes or no on a particular bill, it’s a small victory for those who had been advocating for or against the bill. Since I oppose the new healthcare bills, I am always hoping that senators will vote no, which means that the bill is less likely to pass.

Fans on the edge of their seat

As the game continues into late hours of the night, fans are on the edge of their seats wondering who is going to win. They will stay up until they know the results of the game, or check results first thing in the morning to see if their team won.

During the July healthcare debate, voting took place in the middle of the night.  No one  knew what would happen, and I stayed up until two in the morning watching C-SPAN to see how senators would vote. While a few of my friends chose to go to sleep and see the results in the morning, I had many friends who stayed up to watch the voting process. My mom even stayed up to see what would happen.

We won! We won!

Fans will say there is no feeling that compares to when your favorite team wins. People are cheering, dancing around, calling their friends to tell them what happened, and everyone is celebrating. This feeling is amplified when the teams had very close scores.

When the July healthcare bill didn’t pass, I was extremely overjoyed. I was cheering, jumping around my apartment, and texting my friends to tell them our healthcare was safe…at least for now. Since votes were 49-51, I was especially grateful that the bill didn’t pass, since the votes were so close.

This week, I will once again be glued to C-SPAN and watching the Senate debate healthcare. So far, many senators have come out against it, so I am fairly confident that my “team” will win, and the bill will not be passed. This is not a guaranteed victory yet, as people can change their minds. I encourage citizens to contact their senators and let their opinions be heard. Together, we can ensure that everyone is able to receive healthcare, and keep bills like this from passing.

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How watching the senate debate healthcare is like watching football