May 12, 2007

When Sports Analogies Attack!

If politicians insist on using sports analogies, they should at least tailor them for the audience they intend to impress. Unfortunately, Sam Brownback may have learned that lesson the hard way today. The presidential aspirant from Kansas called an Indiana quarterback the best ever in front of a Wisconsin crowd, and got booed as a result:

Note to Sen. Sam Brownback: When in Packerland, don’t diss Brett Favre.

The Kansas Republican drew boos and groans from the audience at the state Republican Party convention Friday evening when he used a football analogy to talk about the need to rebuild the family.

“This is fundamental blocking and tackling,” he said. “This is your line in football. If you don’t have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history.”

How did Brownback manage to get this one wrong? I'd bet that at least 10% of his audience showed up in green and yellow. If this is a written bit, it might be a good idea if his staff took regional considerations into the punchlines.

When he tried to recover, he showed his age by reaching back to Bart Starr instead of immediately thinking of Brett Favre. Even Starr didn't go over well with the crowd -- and probably most of them never saw Starr play. He finally did the wise thing and gave up on the analogy, with some charming self-deprecation and an apology as an escape.

Sports analogies are at best tolerable. Men consider them cliched, and women just roll their eyes. They don't tend to illuminate the point, and in this case -- equating the offensive line in football to the family -- was a pretty large stretch. When the person using the analogy then decides to start talking about the best player at a position, the focus quickly slips from policy to a tiresome argument over the merits of statistics, championships, and so on.

Stay away from the sports analogies. It's like sending your fastest receiver streaking into Cover-2 and not picking up the ... well, you see how seductive it can be.


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Comments (6)

Posted by richard mcenroe [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 12, 2007 9:05 PM

Yep, watching a politician make a sports analogy is like watching Roger Clemons double fault...

Posted by Clyde | May 13, 2007 5:13 AM

Sounds to me like Senator Brownstein (D-Nebraska) isn't ready for prime time. Either that, or Senator Brownberg's staff isn't ready for prime time. If one feels it necessary to put location-specific information like teams and names into one's speech in order to get a positive reaction, one should take the effort to get the RIGHT teams and names for the location where one is giving the speech.

Right, Congressman Greenback?

Posted by Adjoran | May 13, 2007 10:29 AM

Never give a speech unless you know something about the audience.

Brownback really dropped the ball on this one . . .

Posted by Carol Herman | May 13, 2007 1:02 PM

Why? Brownback said what he thought.

You don't think people root for teams? Nobody would go to see games if they weren't invested, somehow, in watching the show. And, desiring, beforehand, certain star performers.

For me? It will always be Joe DiMaggio.

No. I never "adjusted" to the Dodger's leaving Brooklyn.

And, I don't think it tells you anything at all about a candidate, when he tells ya ye likes a competing team.


HINT: Tom DeLay does not root for Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, or Hastert. And, his book is a joy to read, too. Because HONESTY in opinions TRUMPS everything else.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | May 13, 2007 7:50 PM

We've had quite a run of embarrassing gaffes by candidates, lately. Brownback's above, Tommy Thompson insulting first Jews, then Gays (albeit unintentionally, I'm sure), Obama can't get straight how many died in the Kansas tornado, Hillary does her version of Black like me, and Romney takes his facts about France from science fiction novels.

Do we have an unusual number of chuckleheads running, or is this campaign just giving the not-ready-for-primetime in any campaign more opportunities to expose themselves?

Posted by Coriolan | May 13, 2007 9:09 PM

At least Brownback was being accurate - Peyton is the best ever!