How can politicians cross the political divide and connect with their constituents? One sure fire way is sports.
This is nothing new. Politicians have been attending sporting events since the 19th century. President Howard Taft began the tradition of the ceremonial first pitch to start the baseball season in 1910. But in 2010, politicians are demonstrating their team spirit digitally.
For the Labor Day matchup between Virginia Tech and Boise State, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jim Risch (R-ID) publically made a bet that the Senator representing the losing team will have to stand on the steps of the Capitol wearing the winning team’s jersey. Senator Warner publicized the bet on his Twitter and Facebook pages. Unfortunately for the Virginia Senator, Boise State won 33-30. Hope Senator Warner enjoys wearing blue.
In preparation for last year’s Nebraska and Missouri football game, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) incited a prank war with Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE). McCaskill raided Nelson’s office, replacing family pictures with doctored photos of Nelson dawning Missouri gear. McCaskill then posted the new pictures on her Twitter page.
In addition to what they can do while in office, politicians running for office can garner extensive value from advertising with local sports teams. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), a Wake Forest University graduate running for reelection, is placing campaign advertisements on Wake Forest’s official sports Website: www.wakeforestsports.com. He also acknowledged Wake Forest football and North Carolina Tarheels football on his Twitter page last week.
Nothing can unite a constituency more than sports. Fans quickly dismiss political ideology for tailgates and touchdowns. Politicians that can tap into the energy of a sports fan base can connect with their constituents while demonstrating a commitment to the town or state. And the proliferation of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare present new, exciting ways to root for the home team.