BenFred: Introducing the Stick To Sports Compromise –

The response arrives in angry waves, like Bernie Sanders supporters scorned.

“Stick to sports!”

Heard and read so often by sportswriters that the #StickToSports hashtag was born.

So goes the three-word grunt sports scribes encounter every time their minds wander, from daydreams of free hot dogs to political hot takes.

Despite our repeated attempts, it seems readers don’t much care for our political analysis, even if we sportos were out in front of a crucial question that remains unanswered during the current presidential race: Can anyone prove Donald Trump isn’t the Wichita State Shocker?

I kid. I think. I’m actually here to propose a solution. Compromises, after all, helped make our country great. Or is it not great anymore?

Anyway, as the self-appointed chairman of the Stick To Sports Committee on Oversight and Reform, I would like to officially announce a proposal that will build a towering wall between sports and politics. It’s a treaty of sorts, an olive branch that will benefit the public more than anything since the invention of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry. It’s the Stick To Sports Compromise.

The promise: We, the sportswriters, will stick to sports — as long as the politicians stick to politics.

The selling points: We’ll both be better off. And the people will thank us for it.

Imagine a world in which your social media feeds feature no political punditry from the press box.

Imagine a world in which public servants spent more time debating gun laws and less time using their wonky sports knowledge to shoot themselves in the foot.

Tim Kaine became the latest example. The Democratic vice presidential nominee has been blasted for something he told the Washington Post way back in 2008. Turns out the Mizzou graduate, a son of Kansas State fans, roots for Kansas basketball. And it gets worse. He described himself as indifferent toward the Jayhawks’ lowly football program, as if he gets to pick and choose. No, Mizzou fans can’t pledge their allegiance only to the wrestling program. Yes, it’s now fair to wonder if Kaine stands for anything at all.

This epidemic exists on both sides of the aisle. It’s a bipartisan blunder.

As a GOP presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, a Stanford alum, publicly pulled for Iowa against her alma mater during the Rose Bowl. The pandering looked worse than the Hawkeyes, who lost by 29.

That was before Ted Cruz called a hoop a “basketball ring” in the one state that might actually consider the goof as an act of treason: Indiana. Hoosiers had heart attacks.

Trump, the guy who beat them both, has complimented Missouri’s good football teams — huh? — and asked Pennsylvanians how disgraced Penn State coach Joe Paterno, dead since 2012, is doing.

“It is part of microtargeting,” says Kenneth Warren, pollster and professor of political science at St. Louis University. “When you go on the campaign trail, you might talk about Webster Groves winning another soccer title. You might want to be briefed on that, so when you are campaigning you talk about local sports teams there. You always want to try to be inclusive and relate to them on their level, on their sports level. Sports is very important.”

Nail it and you’ve made a quick connection.

Whiff and we’re laughing at the gaffe. For a very long time.

“Sports fans are so knowledgeable of their sports,” Warren said. “When you make a mistake like that, it just jumps out at you. It’s very embarrassing.”

Warren, a fan of Boston teams, pointed out this problem was going on long before President Obama misspelled Syracuse on his NCAA bracket.

He recalled Martha Coakley, in the midst of a Senate race, referring to Curt Schilling as a Yankees fan, which might be the only unsightly thing the Red Sox pitcher turned full-time scaremonger is not.

Warren chuckled at the memory of former Boston mayor Thomas Menino’s near home run, an eloquent speech about Bobby Orr that recalled the city’s sports legends. He crashed the landing, confusing Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek with Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.

President George H.W. Bush couldn’t come that close with hockey legend Mario Lemieux in 1991, asking during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ trip to the White House: “And you are?”

Warren’s advice for the pols?

“Keep it simple!” he said. “So you can get it right.”

Better yet, avoid sports references entirely. We sportswriters will stick to our business if you stick to yours. Everyone will win. It’s the cornerstone of the Stick To Sports Compromise.

(It should be noted Dr. Warren does not support this message.)

“I don’t agree with that at all,” Warren said. “Most politicians are briefed and say things that are appropriate. I remember John Kerry doing this. John Kerry came in 2004. I went to the rally and I remember him talking about the great tradition of the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Warren paused…

“Unfortunately, and it was one of the gaffes, I saw he also in 2004 went to Michigan and Ohio in two consecutive days. It just so happens he forgot where he was. Before a Michigan crowd he talked about how he was a great Buckeye fan.”


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