SBD/November 7, 2012/Sports in SocietyPrint All
Election night was "hardly an All-Star night" for candidates with sports ties, according to the AP. Among the campaigns that came up short was that of former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R), who lost to Chris Murphy (D) in the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut. Elsewhere, Connie Mack IV (R), a descendant of the HOF MLB manager, lost a U.S. Senate race in Florida to incumbent Bill Nelson (D). George Allen (R), brother of Redskins GM Bruce Allen and son of late Redskins coach George Allen, lost the U.S. Senate race in Virginia to Tim Kaine (D). There were some entries in the "W" column, as Tom Rooney (R), nephew of Steelers Chair Emeritus Dan Rooney, "easily won re-election" to his U.S. House seat in Florida. Former NFLer Jon Runyan (R) "held his New Jersey seat" in the U.S. House. Three other former NFLers ran for office: Clint Didier (R) lost a race to become Public Lands Commissioner in Washington state. Phil Hansen (R) was in a "tight race for the Minnesota Legislature"and Jimmy Farris (D) lost his bid for a U.S. House seat in Idaho. Former AFL Columbus Destroyers Owner Jim Renacci (R) was re-elected to his U.S. House seat in Ohio (AP, 11/7).
SPORTS PAC FUNDING: SI.com's Melissa Segura cited data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and noted a total of 217 politicians "received a cut of the $876,857 doled out by the NFL's Gridiron PAC and of the $541,000 distributed" by MLB's PAC in 2012. Neither the NBA nor the NHL have PACs. Few issues "are more pressing for the NFL than concussions -- at least judging by the league's political spending." The House Judiciary committee held "hearings in 2009 and 2010 about the NFL's concussion crisis," and of the 41 committee members that "convened the hearing, 24 received Gridiron PAC contributions." When the new Congress met in '11, 22 of 39 committee members "received NFL funds." The NFL "spent most on members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee ($231,710) and House Judiciary ($175,500)." Most issues facing sports leagues, "from drug testing to antitrust issues, fall under the purview of one of these two committee." U.S. Rep Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) received $25,000, the largest amount given to a single politician by the NFL's PAC. His "financial windfall is most likely because he serves as chairman of the crucial House Judiciary Committee." Smith also received $10,000 from MLB's PAC. The lawmakers who "received financial funds may be just as telling as those who did not." U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), who "called the league's concussion efforts a 'charade,' did not receive funds" from the NFL, nor did U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the "wife of former NFL linebacker Sid Williams, who suggested Congress strip the league's antitrust status because of its handling of concussions" (SI.com, 11/6).
TALK AT YOUR OWN RISK: San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy said it is “not dangerous” for athletes to express their political opinions, but “it might hurt their bottom line” in terms of endorsement opportunities. It really “just depends on your status” as an athlete. Purdy: “You have to reach a certain status as an entertainer, athlete, to do it. You don’t see the second-string guys ... out on the front lines.” Purdy said James, who publicly endorsed President Obama, “knows, and so do the Miami Heat, people are going to keep buying tickets to see LeBron no matter what.” CSNBayArea.com's Andy Dolich said, “If you look at some of these athletes -- although they’re working for a team, although they’re part of a league -- they’re larger than the team and they’re larger than the league” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 11/6). CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce said, “People are not not going to buy LeBron’s (shoes) because he’s voting for Obama, even if they're Republican. I doubt it would sway shoe sales that much” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 11/6).
POLITICALLY THNIKING: In Boston, Shanahan & Goldstein noted while talking to Jim Gray on Westwood One radio yesterday, Patriots QB Tom Brady said that he "briefly considered a political career when his playing days are over." But it is "not something he thinks about anymore." Brady said, "It’s just the frustration between both parties that have really been polarizing with one another to -- from my perspective -- not always do what’s in the best interest of the country" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/7).
Several N.Y. area teams are helping with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. In N.Y., Paul Schwartz reports the NFL Giants have donated $500,000, "splitting the money evenly between two major organizations, Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City." Giants QB Eli Manning yesterday traveled to "Staten Island with the American Red Cross to assist in the battered borough" while eight players "went to Seaside Heights." Other Giants players were "at the New Jersey Food Bank, where they assisted in sorting food and making sandwiches" (N.Y. POST, 11/7). On Long Island, Tom Rock notes the Jets yesterday "also were out in the community." Jets QB Mark Sanchez on his Twitter page wrote, "Heading to Toms River to help some fellow NJ residents" (NEWSDAY, 11/7). In N.Y., O'Keeffe & Thompson note the Mets are "teaming up with City Harvest to help out needy New Yorkers -- and fans who participate in the organization's Nov. 14 food drive will receive tickets and discounts on team merchandise." Fans who donate "10 or more nonperishable, nutritious food items will receive a voucher redeemable for tickets" to a Mets' home game next April. Donors also will receive 15% off "select merchandise at the Mets Team Store at Citi Field." Season-ticket holders who donate food can "show their identification card for 20% discounts off select items" and the discounts will "only be honored on Nov. 14." The Yankees also are "collecting and distributing donations at Yankee Stadium." Individuals are "encouraged to bring non-perishable food and household items" and the drop-off point "will be staffed 24 hours a day." The Yankees will "immediately deliver and distribute them on an ongoing basis" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/7).
MORE HELP COMING: In Newark, Tom Luicci noted Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti yesterday "headed a delegation from Piscataway to the Sandy-battered Shore town of Union Beach ... that delivered supplies and then handed them out to residents of one of the hardest hit communities in the state from last week's devastating storm" (NJ.com, 11/6). On Long Island, Steve Zipay notes the Islanders "will hold a free public skate at Nassau Coliseum on Monday from 2-8 p.m. to benefit" storm victims. Those who wish to attend can "skate on a first-come, first-served basis (fans must bring their own skates), and all who attend are encouraged to donate non-perishable goods, clothing and money" (NEWSDAY, 11/7).
OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS: PROFOOTBALLTALK.com's Mike Florio noted Colts Owner Jim Irsay "will match online contributions made" through Friday. Fans can donate by "visiting the Colts website or the page that has been devoted to the effort at the American Red Cross website" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/2). In a separate piece Florio noted the Vikings and Owner Zygi Wilf, "a New Jersey native, have added $100,000 to the relief effort" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/2). NYRA last Saturday announced a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross for relief efforts (NYRA). The Lakers "donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross to assist victims." Additionally, the team "has promised to match up to an additional $50,000 of donations from fans, bringing their total contribution to $100,000" (LATIMES.com, 11/2).