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A consumer’s guide to the best and...

A consumer’s guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it’s in play here.

What: The Weekly Standard’s “Politics and Sports: A Symposium.”

Price: $2.95.

Try as you might to avoid the conclusion (and you get a sense that the boys at “The Weekly Standard,” a conservative political journal, tried really hard), this magazine probably seals it:

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Doesn’t matter if you’re happiest thumbing through the Cook Report, for better or worse, the 1990s are the Sports Decade.

The Super Bowl trumps any presidential election. Dennis Rodman is bigger and kookier than Newt Gingrich. Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson dwarf Al Gore and Al D’Amato.

Why is this? For John Podhoretz and Fred Barnes, sports is a form of warmed-over politics for the less-knowing masses.

For Paul Gigot, attending a game at Lambeau Field evokes religious epiphany as the crowd joins in during a video of Reggie White singing “Amazing Grace.”

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Robert Novak, not surprisingly, presents the most right-wing view, but also thoughtfully argues that sports is a purer medium than the self-absorbed culture of politics can ever be.

But it is Joseph Epstein who paints the brightest, most telling picture.

“Seven or eight years ago at lunch,” Epstein writes in the $2.95 weekly, “Erich Heller, the great critic of Central European literature . . . said to me, in his strongly Teutonic accent:

“ ‘Joe, I haf a qvestion to esk of you.’

“ ‘Of course, Eric,’ I said. ‘What is it?’ ”

“ ‘Who,’ he asked, ‘is dis Ditka?’ ”

“Good God, I thought, poor Erich, up in his rooms reading Goethe and Rilke, even he has had his life invaded by Mike Ditka.

“ ‘Erich,’ I replied, ‘believe me, you don’t need to know.’ ”

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Nobody needs to know, but everybody does.


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