Last night the Nashville Predators did something I've never seen an American pro sports franchise do -- they endorsed a candidate running for political office. The Nashville Predators endorsed a Nashville mayoral candidate in a video with their mascot and their team president and CEO involved. You can watch the video here.
This represents an incredible step -- a pro sports franchise playing in a city-owned arena is allowing a mayoral candidate in a crowded mayoral election to Tweet out a team's endorsement from his own Twitter account.
Aside from being insanely dumb -- Preds fans, like all sports fans have a variety of political opinions -- this represents a further politicization of sports. This isn't the CEO of the Preds endorsing a candidate he likes in his own life -- team owners and CEOs, just like players and you and me, have the right to do as they please when it comes to their political opinions -- this is a pro sports franchise endorsing a single political candidate.
I've honestly never seen this before and I think it's bad for our country to be politicizing every aspect of our lives, including teams endorsing political candidates.
For most of my life sports were a politics free zone, the place where Republicans, Democrats and independents came together to root for a common cause and escape the ugliness of our modern day national political discourse. I doubt any fan has ever thought about the political beliefs of any other fan when they celebrate a victory or a big play and high five in a crowded stadium or arena. In a time when virtually everything in this country is politicized, sports was, for many of us, the last sane place in American life.
But now that's disappearing.
And the precedent sent here by a pro sports franchise endorsing a political candidate is incredibly troubling. Particularly when the Nashville Predators recently introduced Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, the Democrate running in the state of Tennessee, on the ice before a playoff game and praised him over the loudspeaker. Is it really appropriate for a team to bring a political candidate running for elective office from one party onto the ice in a city-owned arena and praise him?
Plus, now that the Preds have endorsed a mayoral candidate will the team also endorse a candidate for governor or senate in two hotly contested elections in the state of Tennessee in 2018? Will they endorse a presidential candidate in 2020?
If so, how insanely stupid is this? And can this possibly please the NHL at all, which so far has managed to avoid political division in a time when the NFL has found itself in one perpetual political mess after another?
The Preds, who have done a tremendous job reaching out to everyone in the city of Nashville, blew it here and are setting an awful precedent for other teams.
No sports franchise should be endorsing any political candidate.
It's just awful business.
After all, Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too.
(This, coincidentally, is the title of my new book, lamenting the intersection of politics and sports, which will be released come September.)