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Can You Tell Sports Commentary From Political Punditry? We Couldn’t.

The game was supposed to be simple: I read a quote, you tell me if the quote was from either a sports broadcast or a political discussion about the first two 2020 Democratic debates.

Almost every staff member I pitched it to here at FiveThirtyEight was confident they would ace it.

“I’m gonna get all of them right,” one staffer said. (No, it wasn’t Nate.)

“That sounds so easy!” said another.

It was not. I asked my colleagues if they could assign 21 quotations correctly to either sports or politics. On average, they got 13 correct. One writer, whom I’m mercifully granting anonymity, guessed only eight correctly. Three tied for the best score at 16. (Yes, Nate was one of the three.) All got frustrated, confused and angry by at least one of the quotes.

Maybe it’s impossible to take the sports out of politics after all. Or is it the politics out of sports?

Watch the video above to see how FiveThirtyEighters did, and take the quiz yourself to see if you can do better.

Production assistance from Jake Arlow.

Tony Chow is a video producer for FiveThirtyEight.


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