Commentary Magazine


Political Scandal as Promotion

A few weeks ago, I noted that the Brooklyn Cyclones would be honoring President Barack Obama by renaming themselves the “Baracklyn Cyclones” for their June 2009 home opener.  Well, apparently Obama isn’t the only former Illinois politician minor-league teams are clamoring to commemorate.

In this vein, the Las Vegas Wranglers hosted “Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night” this past Friday.  To honor the infamous ex-governor, the Wranglers wore striped jerseys with “ILLGOV” and each player’s uniform number affixed where the prisoner number would be.  Meanwhile, the visiting Bakersfield Condors’ jerseys were styled like orange jumpsuits; the referees’ attire simulated prison guard uniforms; the penalty boxes were adorned with prison bars; and the goal judges wore black robes and powdered wigs.  (h/t UniWatch)

Of course, “Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night” is only the latest minor-league sports promotion paying tribute to political scandal.  Other promotions have included the Wranglers’ 2006 “Dick Cheney Hunting Vest Night,” the St. Paul Saints’ Larry Craig “bobble-foot” doll give-away, and the Macon Music’s “Eliot Spitzer Night” (which was ultimately cancelled due to fan disapproval).

All of this goes to show that politics has increasingly merged with pop culture.  In turn, rather than fading into obscurity, scandal-ridden politicians have now become marketable minor celebrities.  For Blagojevich this is excellent news: once his legal troubles are behind him, highly profitable offers are likely to come his way.  Ironically, Blagojevich’s attempt to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat will, indeed, prove “golden.”