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Andy Hodges

When did sports banter become more civilized than politics?

In the political skirmishes going on after Media Days, it seems that somehow sports banter is more politically correct that politics.



Regardless of what side you’re on in the political conventions, you have to admit it’s a nice diversion while we wait on football season to get started.

Considering we’ve had, consecutively, a week of SEC Media Days, a week of the Republicans and now a week of the Democrats, it’s been enough to keep you entertained and out of all this heat.

All of this really came home during the latest faux pas, the Democrats having someone hack their e-mail accounts. Whether it was those blasted Russians or not is still up for debate and you can choose what you want to believe there.

With all of the back-and-forth going on, you’ll just have to close your eyes and imagine if football coaches went at each other like these political candidates.

I mean, really, that would be far more entertaining. Coaches at least can motivate their players to go out and beat the daylights out of the other team. Political candidates, well, they’re stuck trying to say the other side is bad for you.

The closest thing we have to that in sports is when Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn go back and forth over hurrying up, going without a huddle.

At best, in sports, the accusations are kinda subtle. It must be some sort of coaching etiquette or something where they all agree not to be totally upfront. You can see it sometimes when the coaches always meet at midfield and are yucking it up before the game starts.

What happened to the days of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. Neither one of those guys would stand on the midfield stripe, much less dare cross over it to the other side. Their trainers had to coordinate everything because one wouldn’t come out until the other one agreed to come out. Neither wanted to appear to be waiting for the other one.

You never get any great, in-your-face comments from coaches like you do these political candidates. Oh, you have some under-the-breath comments between coaches like Bielema telling A&M’s Kevin Sumlin not to say anything after last year’s game because he might hit him if he does (that nugget came out at Media Days).

Coaches get almost laughable talking about how their opponent is well-coached and does a great job. Nick Saban has even mastered the art of doing it about an opponent that would struggle against a good DII school and not giggle.

At these political conventions, they go almost 180 degrees the other way.

It may have gone out when Ronald Reagan in 1980 told Jimmy Carter, “there you go again.” Or maybe it was when Bill Clinton would baffle the others to the point where they just simply blurted out anything as a retort.

It almost sounds not like a contest as to who is actually better. They seem to be hell-bent on making the other person look worse.

Somewhere along the way, the term “politically correct” applies to sports more than politics.

My mother, who kept up with these things not because she was so much politically-involved as just entertained, would be mortified.

In fact the last time (of many) I heard one of her expressions was during the 2004 campaign of George W. Bush and John Kerry:

“You don’t raise yourself up by pulling somebody else down,” she would say before the pause. “And if you do, somebody’s going to pull you back down the same way.”

That might be something to consider these days.