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Monday, September 27, 2004
Updated: September 28, 12:17 PM ET
Ultimate sports showdown

By Dan Shanoff
Page 2

The rancor of "red vs. blue" has nothin' on sports fans.

In our current environment of bitter, evenly-split partisan politics, the emergence of two diametrically opposed "parties" of sports fans is a natural extension.

"Purists" and "Progressives" have been battling over the state of our country's sports union since sports were invented, since the first person made a suggestion to change a rule, define a statistic, modify a uniform or bust out a piece of contemporary technology while celebrating a success.

Since then, the battle line between sports fans has really been drawn across the spectrum of nostalgia:

  • For Purists, sports were never as good as they were before; every effort is made to protect the games' integrity.

  • For Progressives, sports have never been as good as they are today. And things will only get better, but only through change.

    Respect vs. Reform: Sports evolves with society.

    And that's where Page 2 comes in. In this most important of election years, it's time to find out where ESPN.com users ultimately stand

    Heading into the next era of sports, will the sensibility of the Purists or the Progressives represent the majority?

    From now until Nov. 2, Page 2 will present the campaigns, the platforms and -- yes -- the candidates for both of the parties.

    PAGE 2's ELECTION COVERAGE
    Tune in to Page 2 for up to the minute action in the Race to the SportsNation Presidency:
  • Progressive Party Primary
  • Purist Party Primary
  • Head-to-Head: Progressives vs. Purists
  • ESPN.com users will have a chance to see how both parties stand on all of the important issues (and some of the not-so-important ones), to follow a series of debates and even to hear from the candidates themselves.

    Then, on Nov. 2, ESPN.com users will be asked to cast the ultimate vote for sports fans -- to determine whether the Purists or the Progressives should have the leadership position for sports' next era.

    Fifty -- even 20 -- years ago, sports changed more slowly. Mythology was given time to develop and crystallize. A generation of kids grew up to become the dominant demographic of the current fan base, and those grown-up kids love those memories more than anything in the world.

    Today, there's barely time to digest the morning's headlines before we've all moved on to the next topic. It's a "PTI" world. Memories grow shorter and, consequently, the interest in trying new ideas becomes more attractive. The new environment has edged more and more fans to embrace innovation.

    These two groups loathe each other, naturally. Sure, there are those rare moments of pure joy that any sports fan -- every sports fan -- can appreciate together.

    But those moments are few and far between. In the meantime, it's:

  • "Those end-zone celebrations irk me."

  • "Why isn't there a playoff system?"

  • "Geeks are ruining baseball."

  • "Anyone who wants to go pro should be able to."

  • "Dan Snyder is a jerk!"

  • "Tom Coughlin is a jerk!"

    What hangs in the balance? Only seismic shifts in the dominance of one mentality or the other, affecting everything from on-field rules to off-field marketing to the very essence of how fans enjoy their sports.

    Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.