On Wednesday, I decided to poll as many players in the 49ers locker room as possible to gauge where the club stood politically. This post has nothing to do with football. So if you don’t care and don’t want to read anything about the mixing of sports and politics, there is absolutely no need for you to read any further.
OK, there’s your fair warning on Election Eve.
Four years ago, journalist Roger Phillips surveyed the 49ers locker room prior to the Bush-Kerry presidential election. He approached 37 players: 13 supported Kerry, 9 supported Bush, and 15 declined to specify.
Coincidentally, I tabulated the feelings of 37 players. I spoke to 35 players individually. There were two players with whom I did not personally speak, but I counted their support anyway. One was wearing a T-shirt that clearly stated whom he supports. And when I spoke to another player, he told me that his best friend on the team shared his view of the presidency. (I did not see that player in the locker room, so I could not confirm.) If I were a professional pollster, I’d probably get fired for such an offense, but I thought it was fair because in those two cases different candidates were supported.
When I approached these players, I guaranteed confidentiality. I asked: “McCain, Obama, undecided or prefer not to say.”
I also did not ask any questions about why they supported that particular candidate. However, it was interesting that in most cases, the players went ahead and told me why they had reached their opinions.
Two players told me they were driven to vote for the first time this year. (They are voting for the same candidate, by the way.) One player answered, “Neither.” Another player jokingly (I think) asked if he can vote for Nader. Then, he said he preferred not to answer. Another player answered “undecided,” but then told me of his distaste for the process because of the electoral college.
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First, I’ll present the raw numbers:
9: Neither, undecided or declined to answer
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Of the players polled, 18 make less than $900,000, and 19 make more than $900,000. This is how they broke down:
Less than $900,000:
4: Neither, undecided or declined to answer
More than $900,000:
5: Neither, undecided or declined to answer
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Now, this is where things get a little delicate. Obviously, this is a historic election. But in gathering the information, one thing became quite apparent in a hurry. (And, frankly, this is the reason it has taken me several days to write about this.)
It’s the issue of race.
I tabulated the results of 11 white players (65 percent of the 17 white players on the 49ers’ 53-man roster) and 26 non-white players (69 percent of the non-whites on the team.) So, obviously, there is a pretty good representation from both groups.
Here’s how the 11 white players answered:
3: Neither, undecided or declined to answer
Here’s how the 26 non-whites answered:
6: Neither, undecided or declined to answer
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And now for some of the unsolicited opinions:
–“I’ll get hit a little harder on taxes, but I’ll be all right. I have a big family and they’ll all benefit from more tax relief.”
–“In the last debate, McCain pushed and Obama had all the answers. He carries himself more like a leader.”
–“He is more qualified to be president.”
–“With the money we make, anyone in this locker room who doesn’t vote for McCain is crazy. Someone who makes $1 million a year is going to pay $400,000 in taxes. That’s just not right.”
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