A better kind of identity politics, Dolphins style

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Miami Dolphins fans show their support as the Fins hosted the Cleveland Browns at Hard Rock Stadium in September.
Miami Dolphins fans show their support as the Fins hosted the Cleveland Browns at Hard Rock Stadium in September. MIAMI HERALD

On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will play their first home game since the Nov. 8 election. If all goes as accustomed, the stands at Hard Rock Stadium will be packed with the usual multiracial, multicultural throng that supports the Fins — whites, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians. They’ll come from all classes, too — working, middle and well-to-do. Some will have voted for our new president, Republican Donald Trump, and others for Democrat Hillary Clinton. In some cases, we imagine, those of opposing political loyalties will sit elbow to elbow.

After the tumultuous, bitter, relentlessly ugly campaign the nation just endured, no one expects shared loyalty to a sports team to obviate our political differences.

Our issues are too systemic for that. Beneath the aqua-colored jerseys fans will wear, the loyalties to red or blue will remain. People in those jerseys, in vivid face paint and ludicrous headgear, will not reach agreement on immigration policy, foreign affairs, taxes or trade deals.

But during this Thanksgiving week, we in South Florida can give thanks that our football team has worked to give us something we can all cheer for, at a time when we can genuinely use that.

The Dolphins started the year losing four of their first five. Their only victory came in a squeaker in overtime against a Cleveland Browns squad that even today has yet to win a game.

The home team appeared to be headed down the same dead-end alley where it has found itself ever since it last went to the playoffs in 2008.

Since then, the players have come together and won five in a row. And they have done so often in dramatic fashion: a 96-yard kickoff return against the Jets; four interceptions in the final quarter against the Chargers; and last Sunday’s miracle against the Rams. Down 10-0 with six minutes left and looking dead in the water, they battled back for a nail biter 14-10 victory.

In winning they displayed great skill and resilience. Not everyone is a sports fan, but for those of us who are, the ride has been surprising and joyous.

This past election season we heard a lot about “identity politics,” the idea that political preference can often be predicted by race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Political operatives use those demographics to plot campaigns. Mr. Trump calculated more effectively than Ms. Clinton this time around, including in Florida.

But no matter who we voted for Nov. 8, this Sunday, and on game days for the remainder of the season, those of us who follow the team can give thanks and embrace an identity that brings us together: Dolphins Fan.