Field Theory by Hadyn Green

25

Sport and Politics

When you hear of sports and politics you will most likely think of those rather nasty times when New Zealand was touring South Africa and vice versa. You may think of recent cricket tours of Zimbabwe. You might think of Olympic boycotts. But in general you'll be thinking: sports and politics don't mix.

Not so my friends, not so.

Former Russian President, all-around action man, and tiger subduer, Vladimir Putin has just released an instructional video on judo. The DVD, Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin, is mainly Putin (a black belt) throwing opponents to the floor.

Putin said the health of a country was expressed through sport. "The level of developing of sports undoubtedly defines the level of development of the country itself," he added.

"Without sports, it's impossible to speak of a healthy way of life, about the health of the nation as such."

He also mentioned that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was keen to get judo lessons.

So with the US elections coming up Guardian blogger Andy Bull had a look at the American candidate's sports affiliations. Like how Obama sucked at bowling, but rules at basketball (Barry O'Bomber was his nickname).

When McCain was a prisoner of war, he gave his captors the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line instead of the names of his squadron. Of course, when McCain was campaigning in Pittsburgh the Packers became the Steelers. Campaigning in Tampa will be a bitch.

We know that the current President knew the fundamentals of rugby at least. John Kerry's campaign was all but dead when he tried to get the "football" vote. And speaking of Kerry, remember the NASCAR dads? And now of course it's Hockey moms.

Going even further back I remember the only thing that Hunter S Thompson liked about Nixon, and vice versa, (in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail) was his football knowledge.

In fact if we keep travelling back in time sport and politics have gotten along like a house on fire.

But what about world leaders and their national sports?
John Howard:

Tony Blair:

Hmmmm, and our own leaders? Has anyone seen John Key's ruck clearance skills or Helen Clark's educated left boot?

So other than a few blips, sports and politics get along just fine. But in sport, like any workplace, there is also "office" politics:

"Let's just say the president is not backward in coming forward and speaking his mind. He does what he does and we've just got to live with it, for now."

That is of course our own Tana Umaga on Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal. Ooo that'll be an awkward Christmas party to attend.

And before I forget:

  1. Monday is Sports Day in Japan, so get out and run about (and wear your favourite team's colours while doing it)
  2. So as not to bore you all with another Friday of uniforms, I dissected the new Stade Francais experiment at the Dropkicks. Most commentators seem to hate them (usually for homophobic reasons) but I think they are ok (and I love the brown uniform from last year, you can buy them here)

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