Sports and Politics on Television

“Well, I fear the world has turned upside down, at least in how the news of the day is being covered in this election cycle.”
by Jim Fair | Source:
Eons ago when the earth still was cooling, I worked for a newspaper. Common knowledge was that the guys who worked in sports were not serious reporters – they reported on games, after all.

The REAL reporters covered politics. Politics are important. Politics shape the future of our nation. Politics are real.

Well, I fear the world has turned upside down, at least in how the news of the day is being covered in this election cycle.

Let’s think about how a basketball game is covered by live commentators. They describe what is going on. Yes, it is just a game, but it is entertaining and reveals something about the talent, determination and work ethic of the players and coaches.

As the play unfolds, the commentators tell us what is working and what isn’t working. They might say, for example, “Jones is having trouble guarding Smith because Smith is faster and taller.” They would not likely say, “Jones is having trouble guarding Smith because Jones’ coach forgot to file an income tax form in 1987.”

If one team is beating the other, commentators might suggest, “The zone defense of the Huskies is more effective than the man-to-man defense of the Warthogs.” They likely would not say, “The Huskies are winning because they have nicer uniforms than the Warthogs.”


Unfortunately, our political commentary these days seems to be about everything EXCEPT the things that really matter. I’m tracking several local and national campaigns in which the candidates of different parties have dramatically different views of how to solve the world’s problems. They could be summarized (simplistically, I admit) as something like this:
• Candidate A is a liberal and believes government should solve America’s economic and social problems.
• Candidate B is conservative and believes government should get our of the way and let private citizens solve problems.

Commentators might, you would think, want to have some discussion of which viewpoint is most valid, based on history and expert analysis. But the commentary we are getting is more like this:
• Candidate A is a good speaker, has cute children and got a campaign contribution from someone with mob connections.
• Candidate B has a squeaky voice, didn’t pay a parking ticket during his college days and likes to wear blue ties.

Not even the most vacuous sports reporter would cover a game by talking about uniform styles. They report results. And for the players and participants, the results matter.

In sports, coaches who don’t have good results become former coaches.

In politics, you do have to win elections. But if your policies do no good, you don’t become a former politician; you become a statesman.



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