May 11, 2006

The losing team: Unlike Republicans, there are few Democrat athletes.

Even Richard Nixon played football at Whittier College. I interviewed him once. You know what Nixon most wanted to talk about? Bowling. He was very proud that he had bowling alleys built in the White House.

Yeah, and then Jimmy Carter took them out.

posted by justgary to culture at 02:41 PM - 34 comments

Could this be the antithesis of "Unlike Democrats, there are few Republican actors (good, that is)."

posted by garfield at 02:47 PM on May 11, 2006

Are you saying Reagan wasn't a good actor? He did a pretty good job as prez ;)

posted by justgary at 02:51 PM on May 11, 2006

There is definitely something to be said for the logic in this article... It's plain to me that if the Democrats ever want to get back in power, they gotta nominate some jocks and start kicking some butt. The single minded, selfish nature of the money hungry Republican party certainly fits the mold of the professional athlete, who learns early on - some time around their first high school pep rally - that the popular, gregarious, athletic types are more likely to win student government office - even the ones who can only count to 24 (cuz a keg doesn't have a numeric value). And sadly, a Presidential election is no different. First religion, now politics. I think we have a winnning formula. Wonder how they'll overlap. /Better go make a donation to the cult - er, FCA... /ok - the gloves are on. PRAISE JESUS!

posted by MW12 at 02:58 PM on May 11, 2006

Yeah, and then Jimmy Carter took them out. I don't think that's true... Bob Garfield did a bit for NPR several years ago about raising enough hell with the White House PR office that he got to take his family in and bowl, and that was post-Carter. Maybe Reagan or Bush put 'em back in.

posted by cobra! at 03:02 PM on May 11, 2006

Didn't FDR originally add the bowling alleys? Pro atheletes tend to be Republicans now because they are squarely in the top of the top 1% income bracket. It may seem greedy, but it also seems understandable.

posted by yerfatma at 03:04 PM on May 11, 2006

Pro atheletes tend to be Republicans now because they are squarely in the top of the top 1% income bracket. But how would that explain rich actors being democrats?

posted by justgary at 03:06 PM on May 11, 2006

Probably a difference of culture, gary? I don't know, I'm just speculating.

posted by NoMich at 03:20 PM on May 11, 2006

Actors may be rich - but they empathize with the little guy from years of being labeled "Art Fag."

posted by MW12 at 03:23 PM on May 11, 2006

But how would that explain rich actors being democrats? The same way it would explain rich democrats being actors?

posted by tselson at 03:26 PM on May 11, 2006

Probably a difference of culture, gary? I don't know, I'm just speculating. I think you're probably right, which is why I'm a little suspicious of the "being rich" angle.

posted by justgary at 03:26 PM on May 11, 2006

You know I consider myself bipartisan when I vote meaning I swing my vote either way democrat republican or even independent I just never looked as to what ex athletes parties are thanks for pointing it out I"ll pay more attention to it from now on.

posted by luther70 at 03:29 PM on May 11, 2006

But how would that explain rich actors being democrats? Wealth does correlate with Republicanism, but that isn't the whole story. I'd argue the Arts provide individuals with a more well-rounded education of the human condition, and thus are more collectively sympathetic, which is a lesson that can be easily lost on supremely gifted athletes.

posted by garfield at 03:35 PM on May 11, 2006

Alternatively, people in movies, tv, music, etc. tend to come from places like NYC or LA or major cities where they are exposed to all sorts of cultures whereas athletes come from all over but may skew more small-town and midwest/ southern that the population at large. And 100% of people who make generalizations are idiots.

posted by yerfatma at 03:42 PM on May 11, 2006


posted by garfield at 03:46 PM on May 11, 2006

There's always Heath Shuler, Democrat for Congress. Generally sports, and especially team sports, encourage competitiveness, strict adherence to rules and distrust of nonconformity, which are considered conservative values. But always remember there's no I in Democrat.

posted by liam at 03:48 PM on May 11, 2006

100% of people who make generalizations are idiots I think this whole message board is evidence that 100% of people DO generalize. And people in tv, movies, music don't come from large cities like NYC and LA - they move there cuz that's where the work is. /didn't mean to disagree with you, yerfatma - I rarely do, but these statements are uncharacteristic

posted by MW12 at 03:57 PM on May 11, 2006

Someone broke their sarcasm detector

posted by HATER 187 at 04:06 PM on May 11, 2006

Someone broke their sarcasm detector I think he took out to a field and beat the shit out of it.

posted by NoMich at 04:24 PM on May 11, 2006

It's plain to me that if the Democrats ever want to get back in power, they gotta nominate some jocks and start kicking some butt. Someone call Michael Jordan! He supported Bill Bradley in 2000

posted by scully at 06:08 PM on May 11, 2006

Somebody call Bill Bradley so I can vote without needing a shower.

posted by yerfatma at 06:42 PM on May 11, 2006

Jimmy Carter may have knocked bowling, but he was the most famous tennis-playing president. He was even accused of personally assigning court time. Quote: "I have never personally monitored who used or who did not use the White House tennis courts. I have let my secretary, Susan Clough, receive requests from members of the White House staff who wanted to use the tennis courts at certain times so that more than one person would not want to use the same tennis court simultaneously unless they were either on opposite sides of the net or engaged in a doubles contest." He's also the last president to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a wild animal. That's a sport. And don't forget that John Kerry killed some guys in 'Nam -- the ultimate game.

posted by rcade at 05:36 AM on May 12, 2006

As a bit of a political wonk, let me offer the logical explanation for this. Instead of using Republican and Democrat, let me use the purer political division of liberal and concervative. Liberalism is based on idealism. Its aim to make sure that there are no losers in life. It tends to prefer economic socialism, in which wealth is taken from those with more of it and given to those with less of it, solely for the purpose of narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor. With liberalism also comes a distaste for competition, as it leads to someone being better than someone else. This attitude leads to youth sports where better teams are penalized at the start in order to keep the team that isn't as good from feeling bad. Or making sure that everyone gets to play, which is fine for youth sports, but can you see a pro league having that rule? Conservatism, on the other hand, embraces competition. It celebrates the achievers and tends to leave behind the losers. It also shuns idealism in favor of practicality; most conservatives will tell you that capitalism isn't perfect, but history indicates that it works better than any other method. It shuns wealth redistribution, because taking from the rich to give to the poor when neither side has done anything to deserve it is impractical and unfair to those who have earned it. The primary goal is to do whatever leads to the best overall result, even if it adversely affects some people. So even leaving the money aspect out of it, take a look at the average athlete and the traits they tend to share. The best ones are usually the most competitive ones. They live in a world where high achievement is everything, and losers are generally forgotten. Better players earn more than lesser players. The goal of an athlete or his/her team is to win by whatever allowable means necessary, even if that means one or two guys are sitting on the bench all season. Given those traits, which side does it seem natural for most athletes to fall on? Seems pretty clear to me.

posted by TheQatarian at 06:45 AM on May 12, 2006


posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:15 AM on May 12, 2006

Conservatives feel that you can't take money away from the wealthy because they will lose their incentive to compete. But you can't give money to poor people becuase they will lost their incentive to compete. If sports guys are such conservatives - how come they all want their big unions? They're actually no more conservative than their understanding of the terminology. Here's another analogy. Athlete's have been forever used to taking orders: Coach's, managers, trainers, doctors, etc. Given their income level, they are naturally led to the conservative party, which supports the higher income earners. While they fell they may have made a choice, typically that choice is based on little debate - they are told it's the party that best supports their interest because they have little appreciation for any issues beyond money and power, their allegiance can be easily taken, and the conservatives enjoy their celebrity power. To wit: They are rich, beautiful sheep who hang around with conservative owners, agents and companies who hire them to endorse their products. Being a conservative is another kind of endorsement.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:47 AM on May 12, 2006

My personal opinion is athletes are people and, as such, individuals (I'm not!) and trying to lay a framework on top of a large mass of people as a way of knowing the individual members is a waste of time. Like most things easy, it's sloppy and wrong (e.g., your mom). If sports guys are such conservatives - how come they all want their big unions? You're not even trying. A., they work in a closed marketplace where there are limited alternatives and they have little leverage unless they're the 1% of the 1% who are superstars. B., how is unionizing opposed to their capitalist urge to maximize earnings?

posted by yerfatma at 08:59 AM on May 12, 2006

Of course I'm not even trying. You're trying? The whole idea is haphazard. The organization of our sports embraces many socialist tendencies (no relegation, draft picks to the losing teams, the idea and sense of team itself being greater than the individual, and the presence of large powerful unions - not exactly a Republican ideal) that usually aren't recognized for being just that. Plus, Conservative and Liberal are always presented as two completely disparaging idioms. You're either one or the other. In my experience, most people haven't examined their own belief structures sufficiently to even properly classify themselves, let alone have any kind of historical appreciation of where the terminology or identity politics came from to classify others. So it doesn't matter if athletes are conservative or liberal - they'll probably be republican. Because that's what they're told to be.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:25 AM on May 12, 2006

Because that's what they're told to be. Horsefeathers, Weedy. That has to be one of the worst generalizations/assumptions I've ever heard about professional athletes. Athletes are not liable have much of anything forced on them, in my opinion.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:51 AM on May 12, 2006

Conservatives make better athletes - just look at our situation in Britain: Norman Tebbit Douglas Hurd Nigel Lawson William Hague And of course, Margaret Thatcher Awesome!

posted by JJ at 10:11 AM on May 12, 2006

Oh, sure it's a crass generalization with little in the way of empirical evidence about a group of people I only ever see on TV. But, I'll stand by it. I think most people wait to be told what party they should identify with - the same way they wait to be told what to buy. I don't think athletes are any different and are likely more prone to this given their profession. And I think most people only have a cursory interest in the meat of most issues. I think people grab hold of vague ideas of what the parties stand for and never let go, no matter the evidence. I think most people vote based on flawed, misguided principles - like do they think cadidates are good looking or can they relate to them. Basically, I have a poor opinion of most people and how they choose their politics. And, somehow, I'm given ammunition everyday to continue thinking that. That's me. From the George Carlin school of "we're idiots with nice cars and decent clothes."

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:37 AM on May 12, 2006

All I was saying above (and yes, lil_brown_bat, I'm fully aware there are exceptions), is that at the core, a conservative's view of the world and an athlete's view of sport are very similar, and it leads to athletes being more naturally conservative. Not saying there's anything right or wrong with that, just that it's natural based on human nature and the basics of what each political view is. Obviously, other factors may influence things one way or another, and many people can be manipulated on both sides, but all other things being equal, their core values are more likely to be conservative. As for the union question, I think most players care more about their sport than they do about their union. Of course, they'll toe the party line when they are on strike or what-not, but most of them would rather just be playing. And unlike other unions, most of them aren't living paycheck-to-paycheck.

posted by TheQatarian at 11:47 AM on May 12, 2006

Odd that they talk about Nixon installing bowling alleys and leave out the fact that he covered over the White House swimming pool. Let's see, where would I get a better workout -- bowling alley or swimming pool?

posted by joaquim at 12:00 PM on May 12, 2006

ted kennedy shoulda been president. he liked sports. he's a heck of a swimmer and he can out drink anyone in a sports bar and hey, he's boy is gonna turn out just like em.:P

posted by ptluigi at 01:51 PM on May 12, 2006

Excellent points, Weedy, and on most of them I am inclined to agree... not that it matters. I just thought that it was a bit over the top to assume most of ANY group of people would be willing to have a political prefernce foisted upon them, when we are all quite capable of making our own lame decisions as you pointed out.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:14 PM on May 12, 2006

Conservatives make better athletes - just look at our situation in Britain However good athletes don't always make good conservative politicians - e.g. Sebastian Coe. And remember Buster Mottram? What a prat, athletically and politically.

posted by owlhouse at 05:04 AM on May 13, 2006

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