Politics and sports are two things that don’t mix at all

Published 11:24 am Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life is filled with things that don’t mix.

Oil and water. Peanut butter and mustard. Bananas and Tabasco sauce. Rebel red and Bulldog maroon. Cats and dogs (unless you raise them together as puppies and kittens).

But the worst has to be the confluence of sports and politics. One example is President Barack Obama and his bracket. ESPN joyfully devotes a segment before the NCAA Tournament to Obama filling out his bracket in the Oval Office.

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Does anyone really care about our president’s opinion about whether North Carolina has the depth and talent to make it to the Final Four? Doesn’t he have anything better to do?

Guess not.

Or how about when he claimed to be a “lifelong” Chicago White Sox fan in 2010 and couldn’t name his favorite player growing up? Really?

Sports always has been used by politicians of both parties to seem like they’re just “regular folks.”

But they’re not and never will be. Politicians are a different sort of people who aren’t going to be sitting in the bleachers or scoring the game at home. Mixing the worlds of politics and sports, to quote Adam Sandler, is “just not good policy.”

Hillary Clinton, when she carpetbagged her way into the U.S. Senate in 2000, claimed she was a lifelong New York Yankees fan. Sure, we believe you. Name the first six batters in the 1927 Yankees’ lineup that bashed opponents into submission, and that might be a believable claim.

But it isn’t just politicians insinuating themselves into the sporting world. Sometimes, a politician gets dragged into it without asking.

When Auburn University graduate Fob James was elected governor in Alabama — once as a Democrat and once as a Republican — University of Alabama alumni were frightened that he would cut funding to his alma mater’s archrival.

Or when Mitt Romney was asked if he liked Auburn or Alabama better on the eve of the Alabama Republican primary last week. Talk about stupid questions.

Sports is supposed to be a welcome escape from life’s travails, not a place where politicians can harvest votes by projecting a veneer of regularity. The unemployment rate is stuck on 8 percent, the federal debt bigger than a defensive tackle’s waistline, gas prices are rising to unprecedented levels and entitlement programs are in need of serious reform. Our political class has shown a minimal interest in offering any real solutions for these problems.

And yet we care about what teams they claim to root for when we enter the voting booths?

If so, we’ve got bigger problems to worry about it.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at swilson@vicksburgpost.com.