By Laine Higgins
USA TODAY Sports intern
Arizona Sen. John McCain started his address with an apology: “I am aware there is another event today that might be more important to you than my appearance,” he joked.
That unnamed event was the United States-Germany World Cup match. McCain, the keynote speaker for the Associated Press Sports Editors convention, joined the group just minutes after Germany scored to go ahead 1-0.
In his remarks, the 77-year-old McCain encouraged journalists to act as whistleblowers on performance-enhancing drugs, both for their role in skewing the fairness of competition and potentially damaging the long-term health of athletes.
He also expressed concern for the growing professionalism of collegiate football. McCain doubted whether mega-million-dollar coach salaries reflect NCAA athletes’ amateur status.
“I worry when you and I can probably predict the top four college football teams in the country before the season starts,” he said.
When asked about the Washington Redskins’ nickname, McCain said he hopes owner Daniel Snyder will discuss the issue with the American Indian community. “I do believe that if the Native American community views [the name] as offensive, then it’s offensive,” he said.
He advised refraining from using laws to force action, a dig at the U.S. Patent Office’s recent cancellation of six federal trademark registrations. “Honest to God,” McCain scoffed, “I kind of thought that the patent office was supposed to be involved in patents!”
Throughout his commentary, it was clear McCain idealizes sport. In another life, perhaps he would have been sitting around one of the ballroom’s dozen tables, nibbling on lemon pound cake, listening to a different Senator share his love of boxing and hate for the L.A. Dodgers.
“Sometimes,” he said, “I wish I had your job.”