For Pete's Sake

In honor of Ted Cruz’s ‘basketball ring,’ here are other political sports blunders

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke during a rally at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Ind., on Tuesday.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke during a rally at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Ind., on Tuesday. The Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was the latest politician to stumble while trying to reach out to sports fans.

While trying to recreate a scene from the movie “Hoosiers” on Tuesday, Cruz called a basketball rim a “basketball ring.”

Cruz isn’t the first and he won’t be the last politician to blow it when trying to connect with sports fans. Here are some other memorable gaffes.

▪ Donald Trump was in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago and asked about Joe Paterno (apparently he was talking the statue that was removed from the football stadium).

While in Missouri earlier this year, Trump also had praise for the state’s college football teams that all are coming off forgettable seasons.

▪ Ahead of the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry traveled from Ohio to Michigan, and he apparently forgot where he was, saying: “I just go for Buckeye football.” Whoops. While in Wisconsin, he also talked of “Lambert Field,” instead of Lambeau Field.

▪ Ted Kennedy dropped the ball when he was talking about former Major League Baseball stars Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Kennedy called them Mike McGwire and Sammy Sooser.

▪ Former president George H.W. Bush didn’t show his prowess in a bowling alley as you can see in this video:

Bush topped that when the Pittsburgh Penguins came to the White House in 1991. Here is how the Washington Post recounted the visit:

In an astounding, and quite convincing, display of hockey expertise, he spoke knowledgeably about the Penguins’ defensive strategy and mid-season trades, and descanted lovingly on top-scoring center Mario Lemieux, who for much of the season was “out, as we all know who follow the sport,” Bush noted, “with a serious back injury.”

Unluckily, one of the players then stepped forward to present him with a Stanley Cup sweater.

“And you are?” Bush asked.

“Mario Lemieux.”

“Mario, I was talking about you,” Bush giggled, and then began to babble uncontrollably, “I had that feeling . . . I had that feeling … talking about you …”

▪ Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a weird story about a 7-foot man who stunningly didn’t play basketball or “sport.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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