Mike Greenberg sticks to sports, not because ESPN mandates it, but because political discourse in this country stinks.
During Greenberg’s Monday ESPN Radio show, the host of Greeny and Get Up explained why he prefers to engage in sports debates, citing the increasingly toxic and futile nature of political conversations in the country.
“The best thing about sports conversation is that it ascends into debate. And I use that word advisedly. It doesn’t descend,” Greenberg said. “Our political discourse in this country in this day and age stinks. It’s awful. It descends into the lowest common denominator all the time. It descends into nastiness. It descends into people calling each other names and separating themselves and drawing themselves further apart rather than having an actual intellectual conversation.”
If that reads like a person trying to sell you on the idea of sports making debates great again. That’s because Greenberg is quite literally doing that. Greenberg and longtime ESPN content producer Paul “Hembo” Hembekides recently released their book Got Your Number, which ranks sports legends by uniform number. Greenberg said he recognized their book of sports debates can elicit passionate discussions without tilting recently on Good Morning America.
“Sports debate brings us together because someone might feel we got (Roberto) Clemente right, and someone might have thought we were wrong and it should’ve been Deion (Sanders),” Greenberg continued. “And someone else might have thought it was Tim Duncan. But none of us thought that the other person was a bad human being for thinking it. So, the debate ascends, not descends the quality of the conversation.”
Sports debates can get unnecessarily nasty too. But for the most part, they strive to remain neighborly. Sports arguments also own two great assets over political debates. They’re less predictable and benefit from a scoreboard that everyone takes as fact.
It’s hard to predict the side someone is going to take in a sports argument before the debate starts. However, with political debates, the audience can assume or predict the side a cable news talking head is going to take on a particular topic before the argument starts. Sports rely on a scoreboard and concrete game results to settle many arguments. Political debates struggle to find tangible statistics or results that both sides will agree on as factually correct. It stinks.