Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Odd Couple: The Eerie Similarities Between Sports and Politics

            People don't often see the world of politics and sports as being alike. In fact, these two couldn't be further apart in the eyes of a non-sports/politics fan. However, comparing these two shows how similar they are and how politics is even needed in sports at times. You'd be surprised at how these two are alike.

  1. Analysts: Have you noticed the commentators on CNN or Fox News after every debate, speech or primary? These analysts break down a political event the way sports analysts break down a game. From breaking down a politician's performance in an event to what their next plan of attack will be, a political analyst looks at what's going on in politics from all angles. 
  2. The Ideology (Part 1): To quote Jerry Seinfeld during one of his routines: "Loyalty to any one sports team is hard to justify, because the players are always changing; the team could move to another city. You're just rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it." In a way, this is similar to rooting for a politician that shares your ideological beliefs (or recently did, for that matter). Just look at Donald Trump. The 2016 GOP front-runner used to be an advocate for banning assault weapons and universal health care. He even lauds Planned Parenthood as "a wonderful thing," yet that doesn't stop his supporters from backing him. If you want other examples, take a look at Michael Bloomberg and Charlie Crist, both of whom used to be conservative Republicans before taking more liberal positions on issues.
  3. Politics in Sports: If the Rams' relocation to Los Angeles have proven one thing, it's that politics are ingrained into the fabric of sports. The Rams had a deal with the St. Louis CVC that would get the Edward Jones Dome in the top 25 percent of stadiums in the NFL. In 2013, an Arbitrator found that not only was the Edward Jones Dome not in the top 8 regarding NFL stadiums, but city, county, and state officials had expressed no interest in providing renovation funds for the Edward Jones Dome. If a resolution wasn't done by 2014 with the city of St. Louis not complying with the obligations of the lease agreement, then the Rams could void the agreement and go to a year-to-year lease. Then, owner Stan Kroenke partners with the Stockbridge Capital Group and starts a project on his purchased land in Inglewood. The rest is history. The point? Politics are often involved in sports and it's apparent in stadium deals. How much do taxpayers have to contribute to the sporting venue? What are the stipulations that the owners must abide by? You can also find hints of politics in policies that sports leagues place, such as domestic violence policies and anti-doping policies. 
  4. The Ideology (Part 2): Having hit on ideology earlier, this aspect has some parallels to sports. Politicians carry an ideology with them that a voter will match up with. That voter becomes a supporter of that politician a way they would support a sports team. What happens when their politician wins? The supporter expresses their joy for their politician's victory. So, an election/primary is really like a sporting event with the voters being the points that the politician must score in order to win.
  5. Favorites and Underdogs: Bernie Sanders won the Michigan Democratic Primary last Tuesday in spite of FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver (along with every other pundit) giving Hillary Clinton a '99 percent chance' of winning the state. If you go even further back, Jeb Bush was the proverbial favorite at the start of the 2016 GOP race. Now where's Jeb at? Out of the race with Donald Trump leading the GOP pack. There are upsets that happen in the political process, although some people are skeptical of these 'upsets'.

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