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Athletes & politics

Kevin B. Blackistone writes on the political loyalties of athletes, which apparently lean Republican in a big way. Most interesting are the observations of famous black stars, given that the black population votes overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Deep in the Georgia pines, Frank Thomas grew up poor in a house full of Democrats.

Then he signed a multimillion-dollar contract to play first base for the Chicago White Sox, and almost immediately pledged allegiance to Republicans.

"I have no choice," he explained once to the Chicago Tribune. "I'm a rich man now."

...Charles Barkley wondered aloud to his grandmother once about why their family always supported Democrats.

"Because Republicans are only for rich people," Barkley recounted her answering.

Sir Charles thought about the explanation for a second, then shot back: "I'm rich!"

...Remember what Michael Jordan was said to have responded when asked if he would get behind Harvey Gantt, the black Democratic candidate in his home state, North Carolina, who was bidding to upset the ultra-conservative Republican Sen. Jesse Helms? "Republicans buy Nikes, too."

These observations have implications for the future of politics. Black incomes have been rising relative to white incomes in recent decades. Its a long process, but convergence of income between the races implies that the Democratic monopoly on the black vote will ultimately crumble.