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Soccer embraces ObamaCare: The marriage of two conservative bogeymen
The White House is hoping to score a goooaaal with the Affordable Care Act
 
Socialists, every last one.
Socialists, every last one. (Michael Janosz/ISI/Corbis)

In 1986, Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), the former Buffalo Bills quarterback, stood on the floor of the House and opposed the bid to bring the World Cup to the United States in 1994, arguing that American "football is democratic, capitalism, whereas soccer is a European socialist [sport]."

Since then, Italian soccer star Mario Balotelli has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports has begun broadcasting every single game from the English Premier League, members of the U.S. women's national team have become celebrities, and the U.S. men's national team may have finally become contenders on the world stage.

That doesn't mean conservative pundits have to like it. During the 2010 World Cup, radio show host G. Gordon Liddy (of Watergate fame) derided the sport as un-American:

Whatever happened to American exceptionalism? This game…originated with the South American Indians and instead of a ball, they used to use the head, the decapitated head, of an enemy warrior. [NPR]

Glenn Beck also wasn't a fan, saying, "It doesn't matter how many beer commercials they run, we don't want the World Cup, we don't like the World Cup, we don't like soccer, we want nothing to do with it."

It's a fair assumption that they aren't big fans of Major League Soccer. And if they are, they would probably have second thoughts after hearing the news that D.C. United will start spreading the word about DC Health Link, the Affordable Care Act's new health-care exchange in Washington, D.C., in a promotion that is slated to kick off during a match against President Obama's home team, the Chicago Fire, according to Politico.

The White House has spent $12 million on ads encouraging people to sign up for the health-care exchanges, which are scheduled to open on Oct. 1.

It has also tried to get other sports leagues to participate in promoting the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, only to get shut down by GOP pressure.

In late June, after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she approached the NFL about a potential partnership, Senate Republicans sent letters to six professional sports leagues — the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA, and NASCAR — warning them not to partner with the White House in its efforts to publicize the benefits of ObamaCare.

"Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of this bill, it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion," wrote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas).

The White House's effort was based on a similar campaign run by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who teamed up with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 to promote a similar policy, now known as RomneyCare.

The D.C. United partnership will involve "an on-field presence, a public address announcement, and — naturally — some tailgating at RFK Stadium," according to Politico.

The move is probably not going to win the team many Republican fans in the House, where Tea Party conservatives have been pushing to defund ObamaCare in an upcoming budget battle even if it means a government shutdown.

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

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