Around the Nation

Handling the political football

Kenneth Bone, left, was perhaps the only person who came out of the second presidential debate, on J.J. Tomlin's campus, with a positive impression from viewers.
Provided photo 

Let’s talk politics.

For most college students, this will be the first presidential election in which they can vote. While some 18- to 22-year-olds will go no further than following a “parody” Twitter account to form their views, others choose to get informed through firsthand experience.

A summer on Capitol Hill, an internship at a national convention, or a spring abroad at an embassy can shed light on how much work goes on behind the scenes, beyond the commercials and 24-hour cable news. The preparation, teamwork, and sacrifice they observed isn’t so different from a football season.

J.J. Tomlin knows what it takes to turn things around and excel in a team setting. He has led the Bears to a 5-1 start, just two years removed from a 4-6 finish in his first season as a starter. He has already thrown for over 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns this season and currently ranks sixth in the nation in passing yards per game. Most importantly, his team is tied for first place in the ultra-competitive SAA.

The marketing major spent the summer in Washington, D.C., interning for United States Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). What he saw on Capitol Hill was not too different from what he’s seen in football locker rooms and on the field.

“For these guys to be successful, they have to have a staff behind them doing the legwork,” said Tomlin. “As a quarterback, you’re obviously the face of the team, but you need all 11 guys on offense and defense to be successful.”

When the second presidential debate was held on Wash. U.’s campus, Tomlin was there. Yes, he was the bearded young man holding up the “Kenneth Bone 4 Prez” sign that you may have seen on CNN’s post-debate coverage. The Bears are the only team in Division III whose locker room was cleared out by the Secret Service.

The team endured two weeks of security sweeps leading up to the Oct. 9 debate. The Bears managed to stay focused and now, said Tomlin, appreciate the spotlight shone on their university. The world was watching the school in St. Louis. If any casual observer wanted to see if the school had a football team, Tomlin is proud that they would see a 5-1 team in first place. While recent events have taken an unexpected turn, Tomlin still values what he learned in his summer on Capitol Hill.

“One thing I learned from watching them was...

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Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to since 2007 and is in his first season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.


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