How 2020 Election Ads Are Blending the Worlds of Sports and Politics

Donald Trump and Joe Biden purchased about 2,800 ads to air alongside sports broadcasts

Joe Biden campaign trail
Joe Biden delivers remarks at Bucks County Community College on October 24.
Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The presence of political advertisements during telecasts is making it impossible for fans who just want to stick to sports to do it.

From the first day of the 2020 Democratic National Convention on August 17 to Election Day on November 3, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden purchased about 2,800 ads to air alongside sports broadcasts, according to Front Office Sports.

With total ad spending between both candidates at $41.1 million for this election season, Trump and Biden have become familiar faces during football broadcasts with the campaigns combining to buy $11 million worth of NFL ad spots and $2.5 million worth of advertisements during college football.

Though football has accounted for the majority of the sports-related ad-buying — 84 percent — Trump and Biden did purchase about $800,000 worth of NBA spots.

In addition to ads politicizing sports broadcasts, athletes themselves have become more outspoken about their views and ads encouraging fans to vote have been prominently seen on NBA courts and NFL fields in recent months.

As a result, new polling shows the majority of sports fans believe athletes should have a right to endorse political candidates or political parties and do not have a problem with them doing so. 

About 60 percent of sports fans agree athletes should feel free to promote specific politicians or political parties ahead of voting periods, according to a recent Morning Consult survey.

“While a vocal segment of sports fans would prefer their favorite athletes keep their political opinions to themselves, new polling shows they are in the minority,” according to Morning Consult. “With less than a month until Election Day, sports fans overwhelmingly believe athletes should feel free to publicly endorse individual candidates or political parties.”

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