In strange reversal, sports journalists are now using political metaphors

Consider this payback for all the times they had to hear that politics is played ‘between the 40-yard lines’

Fox Sports commentator Shannon Sharpe referenced Maine Sen. Susan Collins Wednesday when he said the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss in the NBA playoffs was, “Deeply troubling and concerning.” (Cindy Ord/Getty Images file photo)
Fox Sports commentator Shannon Sharpe referenced Maine Sen. Susan Collins Wednesday when he said the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss in the NBA playoffs was, “Deeply troubling and concerning.” (Cindy Ord/Getty Images file photo)
Posted August 19, 2020 at 5:12pm

We’re in the second inning of negotiations.

The campaign is hitting crunch time.

Politics is played between the 40-yard lines.

At some point we’ve all come across these overworked cliches while reading political news coverage. That’s because politicos absolutely love to deploy sports metaphors.

Much rarer is the case of someone in sports media using a political metaphor to describe a game. But that’s what happened Wednesday morning when Fox Sports commentator Shannon Sharpe wanted to express his dismay over the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening-round loss in the NBA playoffs.

“In the famous words of the not-so-great senator from Maine, Susan Collins, ‘This is deeply troubling and concerning,’” said Sharpe.

The “Undisputed” co-host seemed to be mocking Collins for her penchant for expressing concern or worry when asked about the latest provocation from President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

Maybe Sharpe’s turn of phrase shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering the border between sports and politics is becoming more porous by the day.

As professional sports leagues become increasingly political in their messaging on issues like Black Lives Matter and reproductive rights, politicians are firing back. For instance, Sen. Kelly Loeffler has repeatedly hammered the WNBA for its social justice protests, while Sen. Josh Hawley has blasted the NBA for its relationship with China.

But the outspoken Sharpe isn’t merely a political observer; he’s also a donor to Collins’ opponent in the Maine Senate race, Democrat Sara Gideon. According to Federal Election Commission records, a Shannon Sharpe who works for Fox as a “sports host” donated $2,600 during the Democratic primary.

Although it’s relatively rare, Sharpe isn’t the first to use politics to make a point about sports. After the infamous Super Bowl 51, The Boston Globe sent out early editions of its paper headlined “A Bitter End,” declaring the Falcons the winners over the New England Patriots. Of course, that was before the Patriots erased a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to win their fifth Super Bowl title. Mike Florio called it the Globe’s “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.

(Yes, I am a Falcons fan, and no, I am not over it.)

Paul V. Fontelo contributed to this report.