Jocks Populi

by Jim Provenzano
Sports Complex
Oct. 21, 2004

Welcome to the final round of this year’s presidential election, or what USA Today called "a duel of the manly men."

Let’s go to the videotape, shall we?

A quick glance at the seemingly similar ivy league college days of both contenders becomes remarkably different upon closer inspection.

George W. Bush is recounted in interviews as the frat boy most likely to jump down from a tree and prank you, or invite you to a keg party.

While Bush rooted and tooted from the sidelines as a cheerleader, Kerry played hockey and lacrosse, and once sailed in Nantucket with the Kennedys. He never shone bright in hockey, but has managed to skate a competent round or two at recent fundraiser hockey matches.

Let’s give Bush a break. He wasn’t just a cheerleader. He also played rugby; well, a little. A pair of ESPN articles comparing the two former jocks’ athletic careers, while snidely favoring Bush, lauds his rugger action, albeit most of it spent warming a bench.

Bush’s Yale yearbook captures Bush at his best, cheating while hauling off an illegal punch to an opponent. A more prophetic image I have yet to see.

The three bouts known as debates revealed a slew of suspicions about Bush’s cheating with a secret audio devise that fed him sound bytes. His erratic behavior could serve as a warning PSA against drug use.

Funny how the man who sternly criticized steroid use in sports is alleged to be in a state of delusion from antidepressant medication. For a man who rails against drugs, he who knows from experience might come clean. But Bush, cheating yet again, refused his annual doctor’s medical exam.

What’s in that glove, Dubya? More important, what’s in your bloodstream?

Starting Gun
As an adult, Bush fell off his mountain bike twice. Kerry, once.

Kerry snowboards while on vacation. Bush appears on a cable show, fishing, letting his dog Barney toy with the flopping trout on deck.

Training and marketing go hand in hand. Bush, who uses a treadmill on Air Force One, is the first presidential candidate to run ads in health clubs. Kerry goes windsurfing, and gets derided by the Rovebots for having a sunburn.

Kerry travels with sports equipment: a football, a basketball, two baseball bats, four baseball gloves and 10 baseballs. Bush poses in shirt and tie in a staged pick-up basketball game with real live African Americans, and looks as authentic as a bobblehead.

Both prove their macho demeanor while shooting guns, appeasing what are called ‘sportsmen,’ the guys you and I call Bambi killers, aka the National Rifle Association. They fervently support Bush, fight any limits to gun control and their rabid lust for weapons, because, hey, it’s not only a sport, it’s every Americans right to shoot his neighbor. Hey, guns don’t kill people. Kids bullied by jocks kill people, goes their credo. Put down those Marilyn Manson CDs and play some ball, ya wimp!

But for all this gun lust, Kerry, of course, is the only candidate who’s actually used one in war. Funny how the rabid Repubs forget the chickenhawk proof in the pudding.

On a day when two game birds –pheasants- died under Kerry’s aim, eight U.S. soldiers and untold Iraqis died under Bush’s.

In baseball, Kerry gets chastised for slow-pitching the opening toss at a major league games, and for combining the names of two Red Sox players; while Bush fans conveniently forget his awful mismanagement as co-owner of the Texas Rangers; among them, trading Sammy Sosa, who would later become one of the greatest home run hitters of all time.

In automotive sports, Kerry has been riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and piloting a plane. Bush allegedly flew a lane somewhere between his missing year, 1972 in the Air National Guard, where former servicemen more clearly recount his tall tales of drinking binges as opposed to actual flying. Still, Bush now woos the NASCAR dads, who drool over the potential for fiery car crashes.

Lesbian Toss
Only the Rove spin machine could make a man accomplished in multiple sports seem like a wimp when compared to their former cheerleader. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a cheerleader. But a smirking "Bring it on," that doesn’t pay homage to the Kirsten Dunst film of the same name, but instead inspires a barrage of terrorism that torches entire cities, turns poor sportsmanship into incendiary foolishness.

In the bout before the main event, Senator John Edwards made a fine showing as a former football player in high school and at Clemson University. He's also run several marathons. Edwards' athletic experience displays his eagerness and amiable interests, not unlike the friendly handsome jock we all had crushes on, who rarely if ever had an unkind word for classmates.

His opponent Dick Cheney? Well, he’s breathing, so that’s a good thing, ain’t it?

Perhaps Edwards' team spirit lent itself to his polite mention of the flaming hot potato of a football, the Gay thing. Edwards Nerf-balled to Cheney, who mumbled his way through acknowledgement.

But like a harpy in a pro wrestling bout, Lynne Cheney screeched into the ring with all the sincerity of a WWE madame character. Mrs. Cheney feigned outrage over Kerry’s modest mention of Cheney’s mostly-invisible daughter, Mary, as a – get ready, hold your foam pointy fingers – a "lesbian!"

Shocking, scream the Cheneys, whose daughter worked for years as a shill for Coors before hitching her trail to daddy’s election campaign for over $100,000 a year. Distasteful and inappropriate! echo the thousands of Rovebots from the stands, with all the spontaneity of Opening Ceremonies at the North Korean Olympics.

Will your vote in this game count? Or will it once again come down to the judges, each as impartial as Olympic officials, at least those not off to an orgy, as Supreme Court Justice Scalia mockingly advocated. Yes, folks, this sporting event seems rather Caligulan.

It’s not the horrifyingly disastrous war, not the tanking economy, not the impending infrastructural collapse of America itself that may sway this game, but the verbal jousts over us, the queers, that may determine the final score.

Once again, it’s down to the Marys.

Minor Leagues
Sports rears its inappropriate head as well in a Texas congressional race. In a recent debate between the congressman from Dallas, and his challenger, Republican Pete Sessions called 9/11 a "home game" and Iraq an "away game." Congressman Martin Frost set him straight quickly with a scolding lecture.

Frost’s folks then released nude pictures of Sessions streaking in his college days. Sessions had vociferously railed against the Super Bowl boob-baring of Miss Janet Jackson in his strident support of FCC fines against nudity.

"Pete Sessions exposed himself to children and strangers," said Frost spokesman Justin Kitsch. "He's exposed himself as a hypocrite as well."

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John Edwards: profiled in Time Magazine

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Cycling Styles of Kerry and Bush

John Edwards interviewed in Runner's World

Turning the Former Cheerleader into a Jock

2003 Peace March articles: Gee, we were right after all.

Another Peace March: Still right.

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