SBD/Issue 38/Law & Politics

Decision '08: Obama Election Inspires Athletes To Get Involved

Obama's Victory Was Met With Excitement,
Enthusiasm From Many Pro Athletes
Barack Obama being elected President may be the "postelection call to action for athletes, so many of whom come from underserved and economically devastated communities where hope is often in short supply," according to William Rhoden of the N.Y. TIMES. Suns F Grant Hill said that "aside from the obvious history of the Obama victory, he was encouraged by the involvement of so many colleagues." Hill: "What's interesting is that I've seen a lot of athletes lending their support -- either way, for both candidates. Just seeing athletes playing more of a role in the political process is something we haven't really seen for a while." Hill indicated that he is "cautiously optimistic" that NBA players will become "more active in the politics of their sports." Hill: "If you look at the election process, you see a lot of young athletes who felt vested in the process and feel that they played a part" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/6). Chargers K Nate Kaeding said of the election, "This locker room was probably a microcosm of what was going on in our country in general. The apathy that had been there before this election cycle isn't here anymore. Guys who hadn't talked about it, hadn't even thought about it before, were engaged. Whether you wanted Obama or [John] McCain or [Ralph] Nader or Donald Duck, whoever you wanted, it was a good thing for this country" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/6).

ATHLETES GET INVOLVED: Texans QB Sage Rosenfels: "Politics have always been tough in a locker room and for athletes in general, because if you get overly bold on one side, you're probably going to alienate half your fans." But Rosenfels added, "This election was an exciting time for our country in general. It got us all excited." In Houston, Jerome Solomon notes following Obama's victory, "many of the Texans joined in the tears, cheers and spontaneous celebrations seen around the county." Texans LB DeMeco Ryans: "It's big for us all, not just African-Americans" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/6). In Philadelphia, Les Bowen reports "inspiration from Obama's victory resonated deeply within the Eagles locker room." Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, 31, said that he was a "first-time voter, having finally registered this year." Eagles LB Omar Gaither said, "Because Barack was in this election, it made me want to (make a special effort to) vote. I'm not even going to deny that." McNabb: "Growing up and seeing and hearing how some people may feel about having an African-American president, I didn't think it was possible." McNabb said of Obama's acceptance speech, "As a man, if you teared up, it was acceptable, because it was that deep." Eagles S Brian Dawkins added, "You saw everything on that stage. ... African-Americans, whites, Latin-Americans, you had everybody all happy and celebrating, and I just never thought that I would be alive to see that" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/6). Cavaliers F LeBron James, who arrived at Quicken Loans Arena for last night's Bulls-Cavaliers game wearing an Obama T-shirt, also "embraced the event -- even though his taxes are sure to go up." James "couldn't say whether he thought more athletes might become more involved." James: "But I was involved, and I was happy I was" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 11/6).

Knicks' Malik Rose Has Worn Shirt Featuring
Cartoon Of Obama Dunking Over John McCain
A MONUMENTAL MOMENT: Heat G Dwyane Wade said of Obama's speech, "I watched in the weight room. I had to watch. It was an unbelievable speech" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/6). Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson: "Barack, he comes and he makes these incredible speeches and makes you want to do better. He's a motivator. He's a guy that has a plan." Clippers F Ricky Davis: "It's pretty much the first time I've seen New York look like New Year's for an election. It's great" (L.A. TIMES, 11/6). The Packers yesterday discussed the election in their team meeting, and coach Mike McCarthy said, "When we hit that topic everybody clapped and was excited about the future." Packers DT Colin Cole: "I'm not an outwardly excitable person off the field, but at the same time I definitely celebrated this moment in history" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 11/6). Cowboys WR Terrell Owens said the election was a "very emotional and historical moment" (, 11/5). Dolphins LB Joey Porter yesterday was "wearing a white T-shirt with 'Obama for America' emblazoned on the front," and said, "I have them in four colors -- white, black, orange and red -- and I'll wear one every day" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/6). In Miami, David Neal reports Porter's eyes yesterday "almost seemed to well up again as he talked about how monumental it was for him as an African-American to see the nation elect someone with his skin color as president." Porter said that he and his family celebrated Obama's victory until 2:30am ET (MIAMI HERALD, 11/6). NBA Commissioner David Stern said of Obama's victory, "Inspiring and transformational. Hooray for the USA." Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "I thought it was really interesting right after the game, the guys were celebrating Obama's victory more than we just beat the Rockets on the road. I thought that was really cool" (AP, 11/5). Knicks F Malik Rose has been "wearing a shirt with a caricature of Obama dunking over McCain" (NEWSDAY, 11/6).

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Colts coach Tony Dungy, when asked to compare Obama's election to becoming the first African-American football coach to win a Super Bowl, said, "This is way beyond that, you can't even compare it to that Super Bowl. That was exciting in the sports realm, but this is something I never thought I would see in my lifetime" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/6). Baseball HOFer Frank Robinson, who was the first African-American manager in MLB, said of Obama's election, "That's another barrier that has been destroyed, and it just goes to show you what is possible in this country" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/6). White Sox GM Ken Williams, one of two African-American GMs in MLB and a friend of Obama's, said, "It was a surreal moment. It was overwhelming and just a tremendous feeling of pride" (USA TODAY, 11/6). Magic C Dwight Howard: "It's the first African-American president. It shows where our country is" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.COM, 11/5). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “Black sports figures, for more than 100 years going back to Jack Johnson, have been accepted when it comes to entertaining white Americans. … But we’ve never got this far before, even with the acceptance of sports figures in the political arena. I think there is a disconnect there until now. That crossover appeal has happened in other places, not in national politics.” WAXY-AM host Dan Le Batard added, “Once upon a time it was just that we would allow black people to play sports. Now coach and lead sports. The next step is own sports teams. You don’t have a Barack Obama in sports” (“PTI,” ESPN, 11/5).

Lovie Smith Shows Rare Emotions
When Discussing Obama Victory
SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Cowboys coach Wade Phillips addressed Obama's election during a team meeting yesterday, and DE Greg Ellis noted, "Wade said it best, ... you can see that, basically, the sky is the limit for anyone in our country, and that's an example for us" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/6). Bears coach Lovie Smith yesterday opened his press conference by "voicing his strong support of Obama, and it seemed to trigger emotions never seen from the reserved coach." Smith: "When you grow up, you always hear you can be anything you want to be. But you need a visual sometimes to see that. And now we have it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/6). Patriots CB Deltha O'Neal said that Obama's victory is "reason to hope." O'Neal: "I always grew up listening to some kid say, 'I want to be President.' They were black. I would look like, 'Yeah, right.' But the sky's the limit." Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs said, "It felt like a great moment, but not because we have a black president. ... People think we're just excited because there's a black president. That's not it. People are looking for change and hope" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/6). 76ers F Elton Brand: "It's a great feeling, not just because he's an African-American, because I believe in his policies and that he's going to change the country." 76ers C Theo Ratliff said, "The country coming together, bringing in Obama, it's definitely a historic event for black people per se" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/6). MLB Rangers manager Ron Washington said, "I'm certainly happy to see the United States and most of America has finally gotten over some of the things that held us back in life" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/6).

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