Athletes drop the political ball

The chasm between the world of sports and the world of politics has at times seemed vast, but it appears nowadays more and more athletes are running for office rather than running for their team.

Athletes pursue politics because the fame they acquired as sports stars gives them the quintessential edge in the voting booths.

The Associated Press reported a couple of days ago that Chris Dudley, a former 6-11 center for the Portland Trailblazers (‘93-'97, ‘01-'03) is running for governor of Oregon.

The primary for the gubernatorial race is on May 18.

So far, he has been the most successful candidate to raise money (1.3 million).

Abby Haight of the Associated Press writes that people are simply comfortable talking to him.

"Plenty of Oregonians tease Dudley about his famously lousy free-throw shooting during his years as a Trail Blazer," she wrote. "But these days, they're just as likely to tell him about being laid off, or trying to hold on to the family ranch, or how state taxes are hurting their business."

However, when it comes to the gritty part of politics, Dudley has been nothing better then average.

He has failed to impress in debates and other campaign activities. Many party regulars believe that Dudley has no command of the issues and responds too neutrally with a simple, "I'm open to that."

This is something to be expected from an athlete who has been trained for almost his entire life to be successful at either hitting a ball or playing hoops.

They are not trained to fiercely debate. These former players and superstars aren't trained to fight battles that have a direct affect on peoples' lives.

All they can lean on is a brand they forged in past years. Many times, that brand has the potential to raise money and to attract attention, but that is about it.

Michael Jordan, probably one of the greatest players in NBA history, has one of the most popular brands because of what he did.

And few would argue Jordan's image is that of the prototypicalpolitician.

The same could be said of Tiger Woods – even more so because of his recent scandal – Muhammad Ali, and even David Beckham.

These are all incredibly popular celebrities who have built themselves legacies of greatness. Unfortunately, it seems those experiences don't necessarily translate to success in a political career. reported that current TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley is planning to run for Governor of Alabama in 2014.

When asked by CNN's Campbell Brown if he was serious, Barkley replied "I am, I can't screw up Alabama […] We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere."

With his erratic nature and short temper, he probably will.

An article in the Los Angeles Times came up about a boxer who is running in a congressional race in the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao, a boxer since 2005 and winner of 51 of his last 56 fights, has decided to "caucus and clench at the same time."

He won't garner much success, however, unless he clenches his fist against the opposition.

Today, Chris Dudley has been seven years removed from playing professional basketball, yet he still has the contacts to get the donations for his campaign. Former Trailblazers star Terry Porter is on his finance committee, and contributions from Nike founder Phil Knight and NBA commissioner David Stern don't hurt the cause.

It isn't worth ruining one's legacy by venturing into the cold, dark, ugly world of politics. Just as it does to sports, the same also applies to other celebrities.

One of the most famous celebrities to enter government was Arnold Schwarzenegger. He took over when Gray Davis had resigned as Governor of California. Since then, he has been scrutinized by many for his deliberate and feeble attempts to run one of the most complex political systems in the nation.

Politics always has a way of ruining people by unveiling who they truly are. Many of us who are fans of athletes and celebrities have one pre-conceived notion about who they are and what they mean to us.

Because of the nature of politics, many people lose their faith in certain individuals because athletes and celebrities don't necessarily have the training and ability to do the job successfully.

In the words of Chris Dudley, "I'm open to that," but it's simply a stretch to believe that an athlete can step in and perform well, when all he or she has is a career in sports.