Outside of a few regular occurrences, sports and politics generally don’t mix. Elected officials sometimes toss out the first pitch of a baseball game, make friendly wagers with other elected officials, and attend iconic sporting events, like the Army-Navy football game or the World Series. And, of course, there are the obligatory visits to the White House by various sporting champions.
But sports figures, particularly well-known sports figures, tend to stay out of the partisan political spotlight. After all, both Democrats and Republicans like sports, so delving into partisan political debates is generally a recipe for disaster. But this week, Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville didn’t just plunge himself into a partisan political debate — he dove headlong into the biggest debunked conspiracy theory in American politics, coming out on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show as a birther:
HANNITY: He (Obama) could just get the birth certificate and it’d all over and I’m just curious why he wouldn’t do that?
TUBERVILLE: We’ve got enough controversy in this country, I don’t know why he wouldn’t just step up and say here it is.
HANNITY: Move on.
TUBERVILLE: Obviously there’s got to be something on there that he doesn’t want anyone to see. I don’t understand it. I’m an American. I don’t understand why we just go through this. I think it just continues to divide the country.
Why Hannity brought on a college football coach to talk politics is still unclear. What is clear, however, is that the supposed “controversy” over President Obama’s birth certificate is no controversy at all. The next day, Obama released his long-form birth certificate, which he obtained from Hawaii through a special request in an effort to put an end to birther nonsense. But even before the official long-form was released, the birther conspiracy had been debunked by numerous sources, including the president himself.
Thursday, Texas Tech officials refused to comment about Tuberville’s appearance on the show, and the coach himself has remained silent.
Meanwhile, Tuberville had already drawn the ire of the university’s faculty and staff after getting a $500,000 a year raise while the school was facing budget cuts. Surely, those same faculty and staff members will be thrilled to know that the most visible representative of the school is actively pandering to a conspiracy theory based on racism.