THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Who love? Favorite sports reveal candidate truths
Sports and politics: most people are of the opinion that they shouldn't be mixed. In an ideal world, both sports and politics would be pure, and the Cubs would finally win a World Series. But we don't live in an ideal world. We live in America.
Hopefully, November 4 will find you at your polling place itching to participate in the democratic process. If you choose to exercise your voting privilege, on what will you base your decision? The war? The economy? Energy?
Yes, sports. This year we have presidential candidates for whom sports are not just entertainment but for whom sports figure heavily in their daily lives. Now that's American.
Is anything more telling than how someone feels about sports? If a guy has a "Fathead" on his bedroom wall, it speaks volumes. If a woman has a faux soccer ball smashed into her car window, it's not difficult to identify her priorities.
A bumper sticker of Calvin's urinating on # 88? You tell me.
Maybe you'd rather eat tofu than be friends with someone who flies a Jeff Gordon flag on his mailbox. Or cheer every time A-Rod pulls a muscle. Maybe you think the WNBA is a waste of time or that Ultimate Fighting is, well, the ultimate.
Show me your sports, and I'll show you who you are.
Take me: I love the Cubs, Lou Gehrig is my favorite baseball player, and I prefer Formula One to NASCAR. Just from that bit of information, you can determine a lot about who I am.
I believe in hard work and determination, personal integrity, and trying just a little harder. I want the underdog to succeed, but I like sophistication and elegance too.
That was easy, wasn't it?
In the next two months, we will be hearing all sorts of talk from John McCain and Barack Obama: some will be true, some will be ugly, and a lot will be spin. We voters may or may not believe the talk, but what the two men think about sports doesn't lie.
Both McCain and Obama list their hometown teams as their favorites, so firstly we can learn that they aren't idiots. How would Arizonans feel if McCain said the Yankees were his favorite baseball team? McCain is grateful for Steinbrenner III's $4,600 donation, but McCain can't offend his wife, who is a minority owner of the Diamondbacks.
Obama's favorite baseball team isn't as safe a choice as McCain's. With two teams in one town, Obama faced risk wherever he turned. Obama determined he couldn't go wrong choosing the Chicago White Sox. He lives on the Southside, after all. It was a risk that paid off.
Chicagoans are notoriously respectful of neighborhood loyalty, and Cubs first baseman, Derrek Lee, anted up $6,900.
Baseball isn't the favorite sport of McCain or Obama, so neither one of them is a true American. Just kidding. The two men have totally different tastes in sports, and we can learn a lot from their preferences and involvement.
McCain claims to love boxing, an ancient and individual sport with waning popularity. "I love the sport," he told ESPN in 2005. McCain wants to legislate a national commission to protect the boxers from financially exploitative managers and bookies but..."Look, [when] I go to Las Vegas and see a fight, as I did [for] Hopkins-Oscar de la Hoya, I contribute a couple hundred dollars to the ailing Las Vegas economy at the gambling table –."
Obama's love is basketball, a team sport that's both modern and exceedingly popular. He elaborated to HBO Sports: "I can't imagine more fun than having a good pickup basketball game... when people are passing the ball and you're actually hitting some shots." For Obama, who plays basketball regularly, the game is a lot like politics. "There's an aspect of improvisation within a discipline that I find very, very powerful," he said.
You can disregard a lot of political talk, but don't underestimate what you can learn about these candidates from their sporting lives. Can we learn how they see themselves? How they feel about people? How they will run the country?
You bet we can.