SBD/Issue 37/Law & Politics

Athletes Get Involved In This Year's Election, Make A Difference

Jordan Donated $14,400 To 
Obama's Various Campaigns
Many athletes and sports execs "got personally involved" in this year's Presidential election, won last night by Democratic candidate Barack Obama, and there is "no denying that sports stars ... have influence" on voters, according to NEWSDAY's Johnette Howard, who writes under the header "Even Jordan Is Involved In Presidential Race." Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan, once the "notorious poster boy for the millionaire modern athlete who stands for nothing," donated a total of $14,400 to Obama's Presidential and '04 U.S. Senate campaigns, and the "sight of someone as notoriously reticent as Jordan suddenly participating in the political process, even in an entry-level way, can make other people pay attention or start exercising their citizenship, too." The news of a "famous last holdout like Jordan getting personally involved feels like underreported news." Howard: "Don't we kind of, maybe owe Jordan at least a tiny apology for the thumping he's taken for supposedly not having any social conscience?" Jets K Jay Feely said of this year's Presidential race, "I think there's definitely been more involvement in this year's election, more so than any other year, and it's led to an interesting dynamic in the locker room. The majority of NFL players are African-American, and what you have is a strong desire among many to vote for Barack Obama because they see it as a culmination of the civil rights movement 50 years ago, and the struggle against slavery that goes all the way back to the start of our country. But they're also conflicted because they know Obama is going to raise taxes on the (income) group they're in. So it's made for some interesting discussions on how to vote" (NEWSDAY, 11/5).

Hill Says Many Pro Athletes
Feel Vested In Presidential Election
GAME CHANGERS: Suns F Grant Hill, who stumped for Obama, said prior to yesterday's election, "I'm relatively young but I never really thought in my lifetime an African-American would get this close to winning or even win. ... The main thing I think is that he's the best candidate. It sends a message and it's an important message. Hopefully we can continue to improve on our race relations, not just in politics" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/5). Hill: "There are a lot of athletes who really feel vested in this whole election" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/5). Rockets G Steve Francis arrived at the Toyota Center for last night's Celtics-Rockets game wearing a "red velvet sports jacket with 'Barack Obama' spelled on the back in sequins." Francis said that he had the jacket made in N.Y., and though he "would not divulge how much it cost," he noted that he "got it last week and was wearing it for the first time." Francis said of the election, "We're at a pivotal point. It's a great feeling for me" (AP, 11/4). Celtics coach Doc Rivers, following last night's game, said of Obama's victory over Republican candidate John McCain, "This is the first time I can remember in sports so many guys being so interested in the results. I've never seen anything like this, ever. Players, coaches, everybody talking about it -- it doesn't mean they are pro-Obama, pro-McCain, or whatever. It's just that I'm amazed at the interest" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/5). The FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM prior to the election surveyed area professional sports teams to see how players would vote (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/5).

LEADING THE WAY: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes under the header, "Athletes Of Color Paved Way For Barack Obama's Run." Obama "may have emerged from the partisan politics arena, but it was the nonpartisan athletic arena that opened white America's eyes and minds to the amazing potential and personalities of black America." Before a "young, biracial Barack Obama captivated a political process monopolized by old white men, it was a young, biracial Tiger Woods who conquered a sporting landscape dominated by old white men." Bianchi: "At long last maybe America's political arena is starting to mirror our sports stadiums" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/5).  ESPN’s Skip Bayless said, “I definitely think on the coaching level, to see (a minority) in charge and in authority get to a Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl, had a huge sociological impact in this country.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “You don’t want to overstate the importance of sports, but you cannot overstate the importance of imagery and the power of television. The fact is most of Americans’ exposure to African-Americans has been through sports and entertainment” (“ESPN First Take,” ESPN2, 11/5).

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