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Former Yale basketball coach Tom Brennan watched the hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee with keen interest this week. Brennan has a loose tie to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as he cut him from the Yale basketball team in the early 1980s. That gives Brennan the unique role of keeping Kavanaugh from the court, a topic that comes with exponentially higher stakes this upcoming week as the FBI investigates multiple allegations tied to Kavanaugh in high school and college.

I think "a topic" refers back to the main clause "That gives Brennan the unique role of keeping Kavanaugh from the court". "stakes" means "risks". But I don't understand how (or in any way) a topic comes with exponentially higher stakes?

The full source.

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The topic is specifically that Kavanaugh was taken off of the basketball team. Before the allegations of Kavanaugh's behavior in high school and college, this topic would be almost meaningless.

But now that an FBI investigation might take place and gather witnesses about Kavanaugh's behavior back then, makes this topic much more meaningful. This basketball coach could be a witness and his reasons for cutting Kavanaugh could be linked to the allegations.

I think the author is mostly playing with words ("court") and exaggerating for dramatic effect.

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If a situation has high stakes, it means someone could be losing a lot based on the outcome. It comes from high-stakes poker, where there's lots of money on the line, but in the political world the currency is political power.

The author is trying to make a play on words. Court in the first clause means a basketball court, but the current situation (topic) is his nomination to the Supreme Court, which is exponentially more important. Half of the political world wants to stop this nomination because they will lose a lot of power.

However, as written, I had trouble parsing this sentence as well. I don't think the stakes increased any this week vs. last week, so I don't understand why they are getting higher.

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