SBD/November 7, 2012/Sports in Society

Sports Figures Have Rough Results On Election Night; NFL PAC Donations Examined

McMahon (r) comes up short in her second bid to land U.S. Senate seat
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).
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