7 Sports Figures Who Should Go Into Politics, and 5 Who Shouldn’t

Charles Barkley
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Now that Donald Trump has emphatically shattered the neon ceiling for celebrities and pop culture icons who might secretly (or not so secretly) desire higher office, it’s worth taking a look at some sports figures who might have a future in “show business for ugly people.”

One word of warning here — conservatives are notoriously cheap dates, easily seduced by any celebrity who mouths a few sensible-sounding platitudes. I’m not vouching for the conservative bona fides of any of these people. I’m just saying that they’ve displayed enough common sense to warrant a look.

Sports Figures Who Should Get Into Politics

1. Charles Barkley

Sir Charles was once touted as a potential candidate for governor of Alabama by Republicans desperate to diversify their party and push back against its racist reputation. That little pipe dream has yet to materialize and probably never will, especially since he has long since disavowed his perceived Republican leanings, but before you dismiss Barkley as just another dumb jock talking head, you must acknowledge that he possesses enough common sense to stumble onto the truth fairly frequently. Recently, Barkley had this to say about anthem kneelers: “The thing is, the national anthem means different things to different people. I’m glad these guys are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear. I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy that doesn’t want to kneel or the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified.” It’s sad that such a tepid defense of standing for the anthem amounts to civil disobedience in today’s world, but that’s where we are.

Charles Barkley attends the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.

Rich Fury/Getty Images

2. Michael Jordan

He’s been a surprisingly terrible NBA owner, and his horrible fashion sense has made him highly meme-able over the years, but His Airness has parlayed his status as the greatest basketball player in history (sorry LeBron) into a stunningly successful second act. MJ was smart enough to recognize that “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” and that savvy has enabled him to amass a personal fortune surpassed by only three other African-Americans. He’s been a disappointment to many who would have liked to see him become an activist, an issue he addressed in The Last Dance documentary: “It’s never going to be enough for everybody, and I know that. I realize that. Because everybody has a preconceived idea for what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. The way I go about my life is I set examples. If it inspires you? Great, I will continue to do that. If it doesn’t? Then maybe I’m not the person you should be following.” Makes sense to me.


Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

3. Nick Saban

Saban runs his program like a federalist, with delegated responsibilities amid a strong organizational structure and commitment to proven methods and metrics. Yes, he led a BLM march through Tuscaloosa, but that was nothing more than a sign of pragmatism, a bit of Trumpian dealmaking to maintain his players’ loyalties. He’s deft with the media, unafraid to put pesky know-nothing journalists in their place. Sound familiar?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 13: Alabama head coach Nick Saban takes a break from his pregame TV commentator duties to look onto the field prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the LSU Tigers and the Clemson Tigers on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans LA.

Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

4. Alejandro Villanueva

Steelers OT Villanueva has a sterling record of military service — he earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan — and the courage (and the imposing frame) to buck woke sports culture through quiet acts of patriotism. He may well be the most admirable figure in sports today. The guy’s right out of central casting and has a limitless political future if he wants it.

5. Clay Travis and Jason Whitlock

This duo has relentlessly pushed back against leftist insanity and overreach from their perch atop the fast-growing Outkick the Coverage website, an island of anti-woke commentary in the deep blue sea of sports journalism. Travis would have undeniable appeal to moderates; he likes to point out that he voted for Obama twice. Plus, Trump has made politics safer for Travis’ brand of flamethrowing. Whitlock is a thoughtful observer of American sports culture, a Tom Wolfe type unafraid to point out that the emperor is often stark naked.

Jason Whitlock

The Daily Wire

6. Herschel Walker

At the 2020 Republican National Convention, Walker gave a far more eloquent defense of Donald Trump’s character than Trump himself ever has, or ever could hope to. Walker exudes class, something that’s missing from today’s politics, and he’s a legend in his home state. You listening, Georgia GOP?

Herschel Walker addresses the virtual convention on August 24, 2020.

Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images

Dishonorable mention: Had Mike Ditka answered his party’s call to enter the 2004 Illinois senate race, he might have clipped the wings of an ambitious but unaccomplished young politician named Barack Obama. And he knows it, too, calling it “the biggest mistake I ever made.”

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10: Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka walks the sidelines during the game between the Chicago Bears and the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images

Sports Figures Who Should Not Enter Politics

1. Mark Cuban

Cubes’ obvious political aspirations have yielded little but Twitter slap fights with Ted Cruz and a pigheaded determination to lash himself to the mast of the NBA’s sinking woke ship. He’s no leftist version of Trump, much as he would like to be. Once he inevitably gets into politics, he’ll be a public meltdown waiting to happen.

Mark Cuban, chairman and chief executive officer of Axs TV, speaks during the Wall Street Journal Tech Live global technology conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.

Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

2. LeBron James

King James is China’s court jester. He notoriously condemned Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s “stand with Hong Kong” tweet as “misinformed” and “not educated.” For a guy who carefully (but often ineptly) stage-manages his public persona, it was an own goal of staggering proportions, one that in a sane world would disqualify him from ever dreaming about public office.

Anti-Chinese Communist Party activists protest outside Staples Center ahead of the Lakers vs Clippers NBA season opener in Los Angeles on October 22, 2019. - Activists handed out free T-shirts displaying support for the Hong Kong protests after an NBA fan in Northern California raised enough money to pay for more than 10,000 shirts, according to the organizer who goes by the pseudonym "Sun Lared" as LeBron James of the Lakers suffers the brunt of people's anger after comments he made in response to the tweet from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong protesters, and drawing the ire of the Chinese Communist Party. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

3. Colin Kaepernick

As a political figure, Kaepernick is too toxic, even in today’s BLM-dominated climate, but he can rest on his laurels as the guy who has done as much as anybody to put us in the racial morass where we currently reside.

Colin Kaepernick looks on during a private NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia.

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

4. Tom Brady

Successful, handsome and charming, Brady seems to have everything a politician needs. But far too many people resent his success, making him a non-starter. He should just retire to his mansion and frolic with Gisele in his piles of money, Scrooge McDuck-style.

5. Bill Belichick

Belichick has built a coaching resume that’s beyond compare but tainted with cheating scandals. And talk about prickly — the guy makes Trump seem cuddly.

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks to head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots after the Patriots defeat the Rams 13-3 during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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