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Original Issue


My fellow Americans, I come to you today asking for your vote with only one plank in my campaign platform. Do I promise that I will create jobs, revamp the health-care system or improve the quality of education in our public schools? No. Quite frankly, I have no clue how to do any of that stuff. But I make you this solemn vow: For the duration of my term I will be a statesman, not a sports fan.

If elected to office, I will push for passage of a bill that ensures the separation of sports and politics. I believe I can build a bipartisan coalition for this because Democrats and Republicans alike should be able to see that mixing the two is embarrassingly combustible. Just last week goalie Tim Thomas of the Stanley Cup--champion Bruins, citing dissatisfaction with the size and scope of the federal bureaucracy, chose not to accompany his team to the White House. While Thomas had every right to decline the invitation, his reputation didn't come away unscathed—many Americans wanted to fire point-blank slap shots north of his five hole for disrespecting the office of the president. Neither the protester nor the President really wins in these scenarios, so why not eliminate the clichéd photo ops with championship teams? My legislation would make them a thing of the past.

With all due respect to President Obama, whose hoops knowledge seems genuine, too many politicians who wouldn't know a pick-and-roll from a cinnamon roll have tried to use sports to make themselves seem like regular guys or gals to the American people. The attempts by my fellow candidates often have exactly the opposite result, making them sound as if they would need a staff briefing before they could tell you which league the Yankees were in.

Why, just two weeks ago Vice President Joe Biden made a speech at a San Francisco fund-raiser in which he said he was looking forward to seeing the Giants in the Super Bowl. When the crowd began to boo lightly at the implication that New York would beat the hometown 49ers to get there, the Vice President realized he had confused the New York Giants with the San Francisco Giants—or, perhaps, the Super Bowl with the World Series—and he had to backpedal faster than Darrelle Revis. (For you office holders out there, Revis is a Jets cornerback. Cornerbacks are football players who often have to run backward very quickly.)

My friends, as I travel the highways and byways of this great land of ours, from the big cities to the tiny hamlets, talking to the liberal and conservative, the rich and poor, the young and old, I find that they all have the same concern—getting politicians to stop trying to win votes by faking an interest in sports. True fans can spot a poseur with ease, and there's no one who grinds their gears more than the pseudofan who claims to be a die-hard supporter of a team, yet can't name more than two members of the starting lineup. Or worse. While campaigning in his home state of Massachusetts during the 2004 presidential race, Senator John Kerry turned the names of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez into a new slugger unknown to Red Sox Nation: Manny Ortez.

A vote for me is a vote for an end to cringe-worthy exchanges like the one at a GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, when Newt Gingrich said that if he were at home that night, he would be "watching the college basketball championship game," even though March Madness was more than two months away. "Football," said fellow candidate Rick Santorum, trying to correct Gingrich, not realizing that the BCS title game wasn't being played that night, either. Mitt Romney chimed in as well. "I'm afraid it's football. I love it," he said, like a nerd trying to impress a cheerleader. That was strike three. (It's a baseball term, gentlemen.)

For too long, the American people have had to endure this clumsy pandering from politicians. We have had to listen to the late Senator Ted Kennedy referring to baseball sluggers "Mike McGwire and Sammy Sooser" in 1998. We have endured hearing Ohio governor John Kasich last year liken himself to former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar bringing the team back to "win that big championship game," which must have been news to Kosar, who never won a title in Cleveland.

Join me, the candidate of change, in sweeping sports out of government at the federal, state and local level. When I am elected, we won't have to see every bureaucrat from the competing cities in the Super Bowl and the World Series make silly bets on the outcome. When the Rangers and the Cardinals met in the Series last fall, everyone from the governors of Texas and Missouri down to the city governments of Arlington and St. Louis wagered their local delicacies against each other. If my legislation passes, that will be grounds for recall.

Together, we can build a new America, an America in which our leaders realize we don't really need them to be Joe or Jane Sportsfan, that we would rather hear they were too busy working on balancing the budget to watch the Bulls-Heat game last night. I hope I can count on your vote when the polls open. Until then, God bless you, God bless America, and God bless any elected official who doesn't pretend to care about the Super Bowl.

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