From Wembley to Westminster: Why Ex-Sporting Stars are Suited to Politics

By Joe James

Other than the fact that one steps onto a podium to receive a medal and the other instead uses it to deliver a speech, you would not think there are many similarities between being a professional sportsperson and a politician.

Despite this, there has been a recent trend that has seen the likes of Manny Pacquiao hang up his boxing gloves to occupy a seat in the Philippine Parliament, whilst Menzies Campbell, who previously held the British 100-metre record, occupied the Liberal Democrat leadership role between 2006 and 2007.

So why, when the direct similarities between the roles appear few and far between, are more former professional sportspeople making the unconventional move from Wembley to Westminster?  UWS News spoke to Adam Morris, head of media for the Scottish Conservatives. 

‘There are definitely similarities between sport and politics,’ says Morris, previously a journalist at the Edinburgh Evening News.  

Morris knows first-hand the drive and determination that those with a sporting background can bring to politics with the Scottish Conservatives boasting Brian Whittle, a European 400-metre gold medallist and Derek Stillie, the once Dundee United goalkeeper running in the General Election in Ayrshire Central, within its ranks.

Brian Whittle

Brian Whittle: Image courtesy of TMC Entertainment

‘Perhaps sportsmen and women see a link, and feel if they can get to the top in their discipline, they can do the same in politics.’ 

You often hear of those in sport who, once they retire, struggle mentally to deal with the loss of adrenaline and competition that professional sport provides, something in which Morris feels that getting involved in politics helps to fill the void.

‘There’s the obvious competitive side, which applies to both, and the thick skin required to perform in public and in front of a crowd.

‘It just appears to be the case that, in the role of being a sportsperson and a politician, it suits that type of competitive and driven personality.’



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