Sports and Politics: It’s Win or Lose

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Alastair Campbell, the former advisor to Tony Blair, writes in his book “Winners and How They Succeed” that politics and sports have something fundamental in common: it’s all about winning. And herein lies an important difference with business where you can be a rich and happy man as number two with a market share of 49%. And nevertheless, while many businessmen and actors made it to the very top in politics, few sportsmen did so. Campbell mentions Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had a previous career in cricket, as well as Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who used to be a successful basketball player. I would like to add the two boxing champions Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kiev, and Many Pacquiao, who currently serves as a senator of the Philippines, which is a nationwide election in the archipelago.

In addition to name recall, successful sportsmen, who want to launch a political career, bring important other things to the table. For example, a sense of discipline. In his book, Campbell writes that top sportsmen often have in common that they are scared to death of losing. I know it sounds obvious, but it really is not. While nobody likes to lose, the fear of it to happen varies considerably among the candidates. That is why I always say that I would rather work for a client that is a couple of points behind in the surveys, but is fully engaged and works like crazy, than a client that is running ahead but is overconfident. In my experience, if sportsmen (or other celebrities) run for office, it is also important that they start at the local level first and show voters that they are willing to learn the ropes.

Sign up for my newsletter, The Campaign Doctor and get regular insights and takeaways on elections.

As a free gift, get access to my One Hour Exclusive Program on my New Book “Beat the Incumbent: Proven Strategies and Tactics to Win Elections”