Born to run

UC political scientist David Niven shares opinion on sports figures in politics in The Atlantic

It’s become accepted practice for Hollywood celebrities to run for, and win, public office; and now something similar is happening with former professional athletes, according to an article in The Atlantic. 

An athlete’s celebrity status and access to wealthy donors has its advantages, says UC political scientist David Niven, who was interviewed for the article.  

Niven, who teaches a class on sports and politics in the School of Public and International Affairs, explained: “One of the very first questions anybody who’s thinking about running for office is going to be asked by political professionals is, ‘How quickly can you raise your first $100,000? How quickly can you raise your first million?’ And for an athlete, the answer is like, ‘I’ll do that this afternoon.’”

The candidate is also reaping the reward of continued public recognition, he said.  

“One of the things you read in so many accounts of former athletes is how difficult it is for them to live in the regular-world context where people just exist, they don’t win,” Niven said, adding, “but you know, in politics, people do win and lose.”

Read the article.

The Atlantic is a subscription-based publication. A pdf of the article can be provided upon request to

Featured image at top: Photo by Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand. 

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