U.S. presidential elections really aren’t that different from professional sports leagues. Both have diehard fans, or supporters, backing teams, or campaigns. Both professional athletes and politicians occasionally find themselves in controversies that can make them questionable role models for young children. And perhaps most importantly, both the Republican debate and the Super Bowl are best paired with a cold beer.
With all of that in mind, I came to the conclusion that this year’s leading presidential candidates actually have quite a bit in common with the world’s most famous sports superstars. I’ve taken the liberty of assigning each other major candidate an athlete whom they resemble in character or style, if not physical appearance. Bear in mind that this is not Politico, so take the list below with a grain of salt and a sense of humor.
Marco Rubio (R) and Russell Wilson (Football)
Are they both young leaders with fast-rising careers? Sure. Do they both say the right things, at the right time, every time? Absolutely. Have you ever heard any remotely significant sound bite from either of them? Categorically no. Wilson and Rubio share in the particular talent of saying a lot without actually saying much.
While tremendous success has come to both of them, it’s easy to get the sense that neither wants to threaten his marketable, squeaky-clean image by showing a little too much personality, or, in Rubio’s case, straying at all from the party line. Chris Christie slammed Rubio for repeating his “memorized 25-second speech” during the GOP debate earlier this month, and Wilson is every NFL journalist’s nightmare interview.
Hillary Clinton (D) and Ronda Rousey (Mixed Martial arts)
This political powerhouse has quite a bit in common with mixed martial arts’ new fan obsession. Both women are coming off of a surprise upset in their biggest career moments — Clinton bowed out against an upstart Barack Obama in 2008, and Rousey recently hit the mat against the previously anonymous Holly Holm.
Despite these rather glaring tumbles, both Clinton and Rousey are still perennial favorites and tapped to go the distance in the political ring and the octagon, respectively. Simply put, these are the two competitors your favorite Vegas insider is betting on.
Jeb Bush (R) and Eli Manning (Football)
Okay, I know that Bush dropped out, but this one was too perfect to waste. Peyton Manning’s younger, less successful little brother is the quintessential foil for the Bush family’s second son. While Eli has dedicated a career to walking in his big brother’s footsteps, Bush just tanked a campaign spent trying to move into “Dubya’s” old playhouse.
The real bonus here is that neither man is particularly renowned for his charisma or panache. While Jeb doesn’t quite pull off the famous “Manning face,” some of his onstage gaffes, including his now-famous “please clap” quote, might make you wonder whether these two are related.
Ted Cruz (R) and Diego Costa (Soccer)
Diego Costa is Chelsea FC’s most talented striker and the English Premier League’s biggest bully. Costa is a man capable of combining incredible footballing talents with a somewhat impressive penchant for causing mischief. Cruz strikes me in a similar vein politically. For his many qualifications and impressive education, he gives off the sort of uncouthness that would make even Costa blush.
Much like Costa smoothly stirs up discontent, Cruz riles up his opponents to gain a political advantage. Given the endlessly pointless debate about Cruz’s citizenship, it’s only icing on the cake that Costa gained Spanish nationality in 2013 and abandoned the Brazilian national team to play, instead, for Spain.
Bernie Sanders (D) and Jamie Vardy (Soccer)
Strangely enough, both the surprise Democratic contender and the Premier League’s newest darling elicited roughly the same response from me when they rocketed to fame this year: “Who?”
Vardy’s Leicester City FC is, inexplicably, atop the Premier League table at the moment, trouncing historically successful clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Sanders, similarly, came onto the political scene as a little-known Vermont senator with a few ideas about democratic socialism.
If Vardy and his Foxes are the hipster pick to win in England, then Sanders has to be the equivalent for America’s electoral reality show.
Donald Trump (R) and Chael Sonnen (MMA)
Those of you who aren’t UFC fans might not remember Chael Sonnen. The once-talented mixed martial arts fighter made a name for himself in the octagon during the mid-2000s, rising up his division ladder and eventually managing to challenge UFC great, Anderson Silva, for the middleweight crown. However, Sonnen’s fame derives only in part from his fighting prowess. Instead, most of his MMA legacy was built upon loud-mouthed trash talking and ham-fisted insults. Just as “the Donald” manages to draw crowds with his boorish behavior, Chael managed to command consistent top-tier ratings for his fights.
As yet another interesting connection, Sonnen managed to draw the ire of an entire country by insulting the entire MMA-crazed nation of Brazil throughout a series of prefight interviews. Trump did much the same with Mexico, asking us to build a wall to keep all the “drugs,” “crime” and “rapists” out. I really hope they were both kidding.
Marc Cugnon is a junior in Calhoun College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .