Stop pandering to sports fans, or start pandering to all of them

By | October 22, 2008

Presidental candidate Barack Obama made waves the other day during a visit to Tampa when he said he would “show love” to the Rays during the World Series.

According to earlier reports, he also said he would root for the Phillies.

Oy.

This follows vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s pandering to the same Tampa Bay area sports fans and the Boston sports fans when she said both voting blocs “know a little something about turning an underdog into a victor.”

Not to pick on Gov. Palin, but last month reports surfaced that she also claimed to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and then later a Seattle Seahawks fan.

Although a presidential candidate or a politician in general who doesn’t like sports at all might worry me, why do candidates do this? The obvious answer is to get, in pro wrestling parlance, a “cheap pop“. But honestly, the chance for embarrassment is too great when you bring sports into politics.

Unless a candidate panders to everyone.

If a candidate is going to preach “going across the aisle” or “bringing people together”, why not root for every team? Why not make a mockery of the idea that sports endorsement equals votes, or that the inability to pick a favorite team would automatically disqualify a candidate? Why not poke fun at anyone who thinks flip-flopping in the stands is the same as flip-flopping in the Oval Office? Why not go to Chicago and root for the Cubs and the next day go to St. Louis and root for the Cardinals? Or better yet, root for Ohio State and Michigan.

I would also be all for a candidate who admitted being a fan of a particular player, no matter where that player went. If a candidate was a Johnny Damon fan, for example, then it would be great to see him or her in a Yankee cap and a Red Sox cap. Or an A’s hat. Or a Royals hat.

What about the candidate who had his or her favorite team move? It is entirely possible that John McCain could have been a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan who stopped rooting for any particular team after 1958. How would he win the “sports vote” if he claimed he liked all the players? What about being “a fan of the sport”?

And what happens when we get our first candidate raised on the X Games? One who has no opinion on the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, or the NBA Championship? What if we have a president who doesn’t know how to throw a ball? How would he or she throw out a first pitch? What about the president who doesn’t care to have major sports teams visit him (or her) in the White House? If a president stopped that tradition, would anyone really care?

I’m not saying politicians shouldn’t have favorite teams. They are human, just like you and me (although I doubt many of them have ever sat in the nose bleed seats). I’m just saying please stop pandering to fans. Aren’t there more important issues to discuss?

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2 thoughts on “Stop pandering to sports fans, or start pandering to all of them

  1. MODI

    jordi, in many interviews I’ve seen Obama declare his unequivocal fandom for the White Sox — even as the Cubs made the playoffs.

    Now I don’t know where that squares with the “show love” comments, but I’ve seen it a few times. maybe, I’ll try to find it.

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