Often in a campaign with lofty rhetoric and confusing figures, politicians must seek out ways to connect with voters. And what better medium than sports, where many people turn for a reprieve from the esoteric and ideological world of Washington?
When the partnership works best, sports can reveal another side of politicians: As softer, more relatable people. But when something goes wrong, it can turn into a blunder replayed on cable news for days on end.
During this campaign cycle, there have been no shortage of sports-related flubs by both parties, with the most recent error coming on Wednesday, when Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan stopped by a Cleveland Browns practice and confused quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy. Ryan explained his mistake by saying that it's hard to distinguish the quarterbacks because they are normally seen wearing helmets.
During Ryan and Mitt Romney's first joint town hall meeting in late August, they took a question from a man wearing a New York Yankees shirt. Romney stopped the man's question and told a story about an appearance where he was asked about the Red Sox trading outfielder Johnny Damon to the Yankees.
"I said if it proves one thing," said the former Massachusetts governor, "we all hate Yankees."
Luckily for Romney, Ryan made a quick save, telling the man, "But not you, sir. We love you."
A few weeks earlier, President Obama was involved in his own Red Sox-related gaffe. The president was booed in Boston after attempting to make a joke about the Red Sox's recently departed slugger, Kevin Youkilis.
Obama was thrown off by the response to his joke, saying, "I didn’t anticipate boos out of here." But someone in the audience yelled "We still love you!", and the crowd applauded and forgave the commander-in-chief.
The next day, Obama accidentally called Miami's NBA team the "Miami Heats."
Fortunately for the candidates, none of these gaffes has majorly impacted their campaigns.