Sam's Commentary

November 09, 2016 Commentary Archive

Sports And Politics: Not So Strange Bedfellows

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted November 09, 2016 ===========================================================================

It's always amusing to see which "celebrities" claim they'll be moving to a different country if a candidate they don't like wins an election. Cher recently said she'd "move to Jupiter" if Donald Trump was elected President. Sports stars haven't gone that far, but support for political candidates and causes is embedded in sports culture. Michael Jordan was roundly criticized during his career for not taking a stand on political issues. "Republicans also buy shoes" was his answer for not supporting a Democrat candidate in North Carolina. (He denies saying that) Ronald Reagan leaned on his portrayal of George Gipp, "The Gipper" during his campaign and time in the White House.

In 2016, LeBron James introduced Hillary Clinton at a rally while Bill Belichick penned a letter of support to Donald Trump. Former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Shilling was recently fired for airing his political views. ESPN has intertwined a litany of Trump jokes and references into their most recent coverage.

Prior to his time as the Republican nominee, Donald Trump spent plenty of time in Jacksonville. In the early '80's, Trump was the owner of the USFL's New Jersey Generals. He signed Herschel Walker out of Georgia after the Heisman winner's junior year. (Walker changed his mind and wanted to return to Georgia but had signed a contract and was ineligible.) The USFL held several of their owners meetings in North Florida, including one at Amelia Island. Jacksonville Bulls Owner Fred Bullard called Trump "charismatic" but also said that it was Trump's ideas that put the USFL out of business. For the record, Trump did admit to trying to force the fledgling league into the fall to directly compete with the NFL, saying if they stayed in the spring they'd be "small potatoes." (ESPN did a 30-for-30 on the USFL of the same name)

In the last 50 years, sports stars turning to politics as a career has not been unusual. Arnold Schwarzenegger served as Governor of California. Jesse Ventura did the same in Minnesota. Pitcher Jim Bunning was a Senator after he retired and Bill Bradley was a Senator from New Jersey. He ran for President in 2000. Steve Largent, Heath Shuler, Tom Osborne, Jim Ryun, and Ralph Metcalfe all won congressional seats after their athletic careers were over. Kevin Johnson is the Mayor of Sacramento. Ander Crenshaw played basketball at Georgia.

Most use their name recognition to gain a foothold in the political arena. Once there, the rough and tumble world of politics makes competition on an athletic field look tame. Largent and Osborne lost bids for Governor in Oklahoma and Nebraska, the former falling short of the state house because of his stand on "cock fighting."

When it comes to being athletes, American Presidents have a varied history. It wasn't until the 1940's that anybody paid attention to the President's athletic prowess. Prior to that only Teddy Roosevelt, an avid outdoorsman was the only touchstone for athletes. (Of course, Abraham Lincoln split logs). Harry Truman was well known for taking long walks from the White House. He called it his "morning constitution." Dwight Eisenhower was a well know lover of golf. They even named a tree after him at Augusta National. Winnie Palmer gave Arnold a weekend of golf with Eisenhower as a birthday present one year.

While there are a lot of theories about how John Kennedy defeated the sitting Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960, his vitality, backyard touch football games and a general "sporting" personality get some of the credit. Kennedy also played golf, and the President's Council on Physical Fitness (and now Sports) was created during his Presidency.

Richard Nixon had a swimming pool and bowling lanes put in the basement of the White House. Gerald Ford played big time college football at Michigan.

Jimmy Carter liked tennis so much he took over the scheduling of the White House tennis court. Ronald Reagan was a swimmer and a college football player as well. George H.W. Bush was captain of the Yale baseball team. He loves golf and fishing and just about any kind of sporting activity. Bill Clinton's dedication to golf is well documented. George W. Bush also plays golf but is an avid mountain biker as well. Barak Obama has played more golf in his eight years as President than any other who has ever held the office. But his first love is basketball, organizing a holiday game every year in D.C. His Chicago friends joked that while he was living there, he'd play basketball at the local gym constantly, only stepping outside to smoke a cigarette.

A running joke is that athletes want to be musicians and musicians want to be athletes. Some athletes want to be politicians, and most politicians know, being an athlete, no matter what kind, can help them get elected.


Commentary by Sam Kouvaris

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ARCHIVE of The College Weekly Report

11-08-2016 - Bradley Says Jaguars Character In Tact
11-07-2016 - Jaguars Beat Jaguars In KC
11-03-2016 - Babby's Idea Screams "Minor League"
11-02-2016 - Cryotherapy Jax: Recovery Is The Key To Peak Performance
10-31-2016 - Bradley, Bortles Say Hackett Brings "New Vision"
10-29-2016 - Bradley Says Jaguars Lacked Focus
10-28-2016 - Khan Says Bradley's Staying
10-28-2016 - Time's Up: Jaguars Should Move On
10-25-2016 - "Unacceptable" According To Bradley. Is It Really?
10-24-2016 - Jaguars, Bradley Wobbling On The Tracks
10-23-2016 - Jaguars Embarrassed By Raiders, 33-16
10-18-2016 - Jaguars Run Game Needs Help
10-17-2016 - Jaguars Win, Need Work
10-15-2016 - Jaguars Bye Week Approach Slightly Different
10-11-2016 - Bradley: "It feels different out there"
10-10-2016 - Historic Ponte Vedra Inn And Club Survives Matthew
10-10-2016 - PV Residents Say Beach Is Resilient
10-10-2016 - Sawgrass CC: No Issues
10-04-2016 - Jaguars: 2 Weeks To Clean Things Up
10-02-2016 - Jaguars Beat Colts
10-01-2016 - Plenty Of Jaguars Fans In London
10-01-2016 - Jaguars In London: Routine Is Key
10-01-2016 - Jaguars/Colts: 4 To Watch 4
09-29-2016 - Bortles: "Stupid things, easily correctable"
09-29-2016 - Jaguars Say London Is More Like A Home Game
09-28-2016 - Palmer's Local Friends: "You'd have loved him even if he wasn't a golfer"
09-28-2016 - Bradley Knows Now Is The Time
09-26-2016 - Arnold Palmer: No One Like Him
09-26-2016 - Jaguars Squander Chances, Lose To Ravens
09-24-2016 - Jaguars/Ravens: 4 To Watch 4
09-20-2016 - Bradley, Jaguars At A Crossroads
09-18-2016 - Jaguars vs. SD: Nothing To Like
09-18-2016 - Jaguars/San Diego: 4 To Watch 4
09-16-2016 - Graeme Mcdowell Owns Restaurants, Wants To Play Golf
09-12-2016 - After Further Review: I Feel A Little Better Because They Don't
09-11-2016 - Exciting, Encouraged: Jaguars Still 0-1
09-10-2016 - Jaguars: 4 To Watch 4
09-10-2016 - Will Gus Bradley's Coaching Experiment Work?
09-08-2016 - Jaguars And Packers, More Similar Than You Think
09-06-2016 - Jaguars Roster: Bigger, Faster, Stronger
08-31-2016 - Are The Jaguars 'Hoping" For Success
08-30-2016 - Jaguars Know Bengals Effort Won't Fly
08-29-2016 - Wake Up Call For Jaguars Vs. Bengals
08-28-2016 - Jaguars "Fact Finding" vs. Bengals
08-23-2016 - Arrow Up On Jaguars
08-20-2016 - South End Zone Project: Khan Wants To Get It Right
08-13-2016 - Jets Game, Training Camp, Jaguars Still Working
08-03-2016 - Bortles Better, Defense Better
07-31-2016 - Stadium Improvements March On
07-29-2016 - FSU/Boise St. To Play Here In 2019
07-28-2016 - Air2G2 Local Company Making Good
07-27-2016 - Smith "Grateful and excited" to be in The Pride
07-27-2016 - Time for Jimmy Smith in The Pride
07-22-2016 - Jaguars Ready To Win Says Malik Jackson
07-22-2016 - Khan On 2016 Roster: "Scary Good"
07-15-2016 - Cryotherapy: The latest in "Sam's Big Comeback"
06-16-2016 - MJD on Jaguars: "They can win the South"
06-15-2016 - Foley To Leave Florida In A Good Spot
06-11-2016 - Marks Returns Optimistic
06-03-2016 - Hurns Deal Good All Around
05-31-2016 - Jaguars TE Thomas: We can be better
05-25-2016 - Hale Irwin at WGV: Winners have the heart of a champion"
05-24-2016 - Jaguars Start OTA's "Good not great."
05-20-2016 - Ramsey Hurt: Jaguars Snake Bit?
05-15-2016 - Day Wins THE PLAYERS 2016
05-13-2016 - Play Suspended At THE PLAYERS in Rd. 2
05-13-2016 - Wilcox Hole In One At 17
05-13-2016 - THE PLAYERS Round 2: Low Scores Again
05-12-2016 - First Round Players Notes
05-12-2016 - Day Early Leader At THE PLAYERS
05-12-2016 - Spite A Favorite, And Not Just For Golf
05-10-2016 - Fowler Still "Likes the Vibe"
05-10-2016 - Formula To Win THE PLAYERS? None
05-09-2016 - More Players At THE PLAYERS On Monday
05-09-2016 - Furyk Returns Optimistic At PLAYERS
04-30-2016 - Caldwell Takes Jack: "Risk To Be Great"
04-29-2016 - Jaguars' Ramsey: Best Player In The Draft
04-27-2016 - Khan On Draft Day: "Don't Be Impulsive"
04-23-2016 - Raising Money, Always Funny, Bill Murray's In Town
04-20-2016 - Mcelwain: Gators Much Farther Along
04-16-2016 - Armada Get 1st Win 2-1 vs. Miami FC
04-14-2016 - Rashean Retires As A Jaguar
04-09-2016 - Masters Traditions Like No Other
04-01-2016 - NFL Contributes To HS Player Safety
03-28-2016 - USA Soccer To Play Here September 6
03-26-2016 - When Watching Tony Kornheiser, Buyer Beware
03-24-2016 - Khan Still Moving Forward
03-23-2016 - Dave Caldwell's Jaguars Vision
03-23-2016 - Bradley: Stay to the Plan
03-09-2016 - Mayor Curry To Run Gate River Run
02-27-2016 - "The Hayt" Tests College Players At Sawgrass CC
02-19-2016 - Earnhardt, Kyle Busch win Duels at Daytona
02-18-2016 - Jaguars Re-sign Chad Henne
02-18-2016 - Champions Ride for Safety
02-12-2016 - The Players Military Appreciation Day
02-08-2016 - Hall of Fame Voting: A Process
02-04-2016 - FSU Class Among The Best In The Nation
02-04-2016 - Gators Bolster Offense on Signing Day
01-29-2016 - Stadium Clubs "Reimagined"
01-25-2016 - Remembering Rex Morgan
01-21-2016 - "Krossover" Helping Hs Hoops Teams
01-13-2016 - Cyclists And Motorists Looking For Compromise
01-07-2016 - Jacksonville in the D-League?
01-07-2016 - Smith Fired in Tampa: Jax DC?
01-05-2016 - For Gus' Sake, I Hope He's Right
01-04-2016 - Coughlin Out At Giants HC
01-03-2016 - Jaguars Lose To Texans, Work To Do
01-03-2016 - Jaguars Playing Today, Thinking About Tomorrow

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