DemDaily: The Olympics, Politics & Perspective
The Summer Olympics, like the US presidential, takes place every four years and for a week the world has the opportunity to turn their attention to the real heroes of the day - the athletes who train their whole lives to represent their countries on the fields, pools, arenas, and tracks of the Olympic Games.
While I have no doubt the electorate (and certainly the participants) welcome a break from the presidential media coverage, it appears the candidate(s) are still dominating the airwaves.
The Republican Convention drew an average daily audience of 23.74 million viewers, the Democratic Convention "trumped" the Donald (despite his claims) with 25.51, and this week's Olympic Games are averaging 19.5 million daily (down nearly a third from London four years ago).
Olympic athletes were the heroes of my childhood and this week's Games in Rio are an opportunity for all to pay tribute to these tireless athletes who have truly sacrificed to represent their country.
Tune in for perspective! After all, would you rather watch USA's 19-year old Katie Ledecky break another world record or Donald Trump make another un-presidential remark?
For the history buffs, a few former Olympians who channeled their athletic energy into politics.
Olympians Turned Politicians
Democrats have been well-represented in this category.
Two-time Olympian Ralph Metcalfe won gold, silver & bronze medals in both Los Angeles in 1932 and in Berlin in 1936, including Metcalfe's historic part in the gold medal-winning 4x100 relay team that competed in Berlin.
Metcalfe represented the South side of Chicago on the city council from 1955-1970 before being elected in 1971 to the US Senate from Illinois, where he served until his death in 1978.
Maryland native Tom McMillen was on the cover of Sports Illustrated by high school, played at the University of Maryland, in the NBA, and on the 1972 Olympic basketball team.
McMillen was elected to Congress in 1987 and served three terms before losing is seat to redistricting. In 1993 President Clinton appointed him, along with Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner, as Co-Chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.
Bill Bradley played basketball at Princeton, internationally and pro-ball with the New York Knicks before winning the gold in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. An active New Jersey Democrat, he ran for US Senate in 1978, where he served for 20 years before his unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination that went to Al Gore.
Republicans that made the leap:
Bob Mathias, Gold for the Decathalon in 1948 London & 1952 Helsinki Olympics and served in the California Senate in 1966-1978.
Former US Senator from Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D turned R) captained the 1964 Olympic Judo Team.
Jim Ryun competed as a runner in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics, and represented Kansas in the US House from 1996-2006, and Oregon Republican Congressman Matthew Lindland won a silver in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Mitt & Ann Romney: The former GOP Presidential candidate served as president and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. Ann's dressage horse Rafalca competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
In 1934, Avery Brundage, the head of the American Olympic Committee, wrote "the Olympic Games belong to the athletes and not to the politicians."
The (Medal) Count
- Olympic Updates & Medal Winners: Official Site
- NBC Coverage Information & Live Streaming: http://www.nbcolympics.com/
- Follow on: Official Olympics Twitter and Olympic Team USA Twitter