Monday, August 04, 2008

Sports and Politics Don't Mix

Recently, a colleague of mine in Sioux Falls had to make an on-air apology during his sports talk show when he made the comment about America having (or is it being?) terrorsts. This came during a discussion over Becky Hammon's decision to play for Mother Russia during the Olympics.

Some in the Blogosphere would think that the announcer shouldn't have to apologize for exercising his First Amendment right. And if the program was one of the millions of politcally-based talk shows out there, I'd agree (even if he was dead wrong). BUT from a programming standpoint, he is clearly in the wrong.

Sports talk shows stir up plenty of controversy. Just listen to "Mike and Mike" or watch "Pardon the Interruption" and you'll probably want to strangle one or both hosts at one point or another during the program. Hell, Jim Rome has made a career out of tweaking die-hard fans. But what you won't see in these programs is politics.

While we will disagree vehemently about our sports teams and our athletes, we tend to normally keep the discussion civil, friendly, and funny... unless you're a Packers fan; then you're just obnoxious! But we all agree that a political discussion has no place in our little world of sports. We cringe when Congress holds Steroid hearings (don't they have anything better to do, like trying to do something about the gas prices?), and we boo lustily when politicians throw out the first pitch at a ball game. Why are we so vehement about this?


Sports, for all intents and purposes, is a diversion. It's a way for fathers and sons to find common ground when they disagree about everything else. It's an opportunity to forget about all the ugliness that is in the world and in our lives and to take in the sights, sounds, and pure joy in the action of a baseball game, a boxing match, or a basketball game. It's a great way to take three or so hours and "take a break" from reality.

When someone puts politics into the mix, it disturbs us... "harshes our mellow" as it were. It brings that ugliness back into what is (normally) a pure and beautiful thing. And frankly, we don't need it.

Politics celebrates our failures and thrives on what is bad in our lives. Sports celebrate our accomplishments and thrives on what is good and decen in our lives. Things like sportsmanship, giving maximum effort for maximum gain, and battling through what seems like a hopeless situation to come out victorious.

Let Limbaugh, Boortz, Schultz, and O'Reilly keep the politics on their shows, and keep it out of our sports!

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