A Few Football Metaphors

Since we are in the middle of the numerous college football bowl games and NFL playoffs, I thought I would share a few political metaphors derived from one of America’s most popular sports.


Some sports such as football and basketball require the players to execute many different kinds of offensive and defensive plays to win games.  The collection of all of these plays and strategies is called the playbook.  In politics, campaign managers or government officials may also be described as having a playbook to win elections or complete complex programs.

Example: These days, with negative attack ads and huge corporate donations, presidential candidates need a very complex playbook to win elections.

star quarterback

A good football team needs a star quarterback to win games.  In politics, a presidential candidate may be referred to as a star quarterback to win the election.

Example:  In 2012, the Republican Party selected Mitt Romney as their star quarterback to beat Barack Obama in the presidential election.

kick off

A football games always begins with one team kicking the ball down the field to the other team.  This action is called the kick off.  In common terms, the beginning of any event or process may be called a kick off.  This phrase may also be used as a verb to indicate the start of something new.

Example:  In Europe, national elections allow only a few months of campaigning.  In the United States, presidential campaigns kick off more than a year before the election.

double team

In football and basketball, sometimes star players require two people to defend them to prevent them from scoring points.  This is known as double teaming the player.  In politics, when a two people criticize a fellow politician, this may also be referred to as double teaming.

Example: During the 2012, presidential campaign, Barack Obama and Joe Biden double teamed Mitt Romney in response to some of his attack ads against President Obama.

Next time:  How does the White House speak? Whose boots are on the ground?