Nov 3, 2020 - Sports

How the election could change sports

Illustration of two football helmets, one blue with the Democratic donkey and one red with the Republican elephant, facing off.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The outcome of the 2020 election will greatly impact the sports world. And through its efforts to increase voter turnout, the sports world could greatly impact the outcome of the 2020 election.

Where it stands: College sports are off. The NCAA is requiring that all Division I programs give their student athletes the day off from sports today, an idea that was first introduced in June by Georgia Tech assistant basketball coach Eric Reveno.

  • Sports ads: The Trump and Biden campaigns spent $41.1 million on 2,801 ads that aired during sports telecasts from Aug. 17 through today, per SBJ. Biden spent $26.7 million ($19.7M on national; $7M on local), while Trump spent $14.4 million ($5.2M on national; $9.2M on local).
  • All eyes on Georgia: State Farm Arena has been one of the most active in-stadium voting sites, the Falcons recruited high schoolers to be poll workers, and Kelly Loeffler's feud with WNBA players could cost her a Senate seat.
  • NCAA reform: The future of college sports will be shaped by 2020's Senate races. If Democrats win control, they're likely to pursue legislation that would completely reform the NCAA, while Republicans support a more limited bill that focuses on name, image and likeness.
  • Latest from LeBron: LeBron James and Michael Bloomberg are leading a multimillion-dollar effort to pay off court fees for Florida felons, which could make nearly 13,000 of them eligible to vote today, per the Tampa Bay Times.
  • "NFL Votes" initiative: 15 NFL stadiums will be used as polling sites today, and all NFL, NFLPA and team facilities are closed to ensure that everyone has the chance to vote.

The big picture: Through repeated attacks on athletes and ongoing feuds with leagues, President Trump has toppled the walls between politics and sports.

  • The president has support in the sports world, with household names like Jack Nicklaus and Brett Favre recently endorsing him.
  • But he's also made enemies — and now the battle is being waged on the ballot, with Election Day promising more drama and higher stakes than any sports competition ever could.
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