Here in Iowa we like our sports full contact.
On Saturday we saw examples of two of our favorite sports, as football and politics came together at the Clay County Regional Event Center ballroom. A crowd gathered to watch "The Only Game That Really Matters," or, for the non-Iowans out there, the ISU-Iowa football game. Following that nail-biter, we had the first public debate between contenders for the 4th District Congressional seat.
Both were rough and tumble affairs.
The passion was obvious. Sequestered in the Clay County Event Center boardroom, the members of the media panel gathered to compare questions we each wanted to ask in the upcoming debate between challenger Christie Vilsack and Congressman Steve King.
Across the hall, football fans and politicos gathered, a crowd of roughly 700.
We had our own television in the board room, tuned, of course, to the game. We would have known when the big plays were happening, even if we hadn't seen them, by the huge roars that made their way from the ballroom to our room.
People LOVE their football, of that we can be sure. Iowans pledged their allegiance to either the Hawkeyes or Cyclones through their choice of attire. A visitor unaware of the occasion would be excused for thinking black, cardinal and gold were the only clothing colors available in our state.
Clay County Fair officials ensured that folks could combine two loves - their team and the fair - by opening up the ballroom at the event center for a public football fest.
It made for a fun atmosphere for catching the game.
Add in another, only slightly less bloody sport -- politics -- and the already electric atmosphere went nuclear hot.
Supporters of both candidates made their way to the ballroom, where the first public debate of King and Vilsack was slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. They wanted to ensure they had good seats for the event.
The ballgame, however, was running long.
Some combinations, like oil and water, don't really go together. Others, like political and football fans, bear an amazing resemblance to each other.
Add in a crew of media types, with cameras and tape recorders, and you couldn't find a more high-excitement, high-tension and well, high-temperature spot in Iowa at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday night than that ballroom on the grounds of the Clay County Fairgrounds.
I've gotta say, I had a blast. I love the things that make our little corner of the world extra special and, in one spot on Saturday night, some of those things were packed into a very small space.
Hey, we love our teams. And, if truth were told, we can do a bit of trash talking. We're fiercely loyal. We can be a bit loud. But, when you get past that rough and ready armor, we've got a lot of heart and soul.
Football. The Clay County Fair. Iowa Politics.
Yep, that describes all of them.