SBD/Issue 85/Sports & Society

Obama Inauguration Part II: How Barack Can Influence Sports

DC Sports Officials Plan To Utilize Obama
As A Pull To Attract Sporting Events To City
President Barack Obama "loves his sports," and his arrival in DC has "many in the sports industry atwitter about the possibility of raising the city's athletic profile," according to Tim Lemke of the WASHINGTON TIMES. CSN Mid-Atlantic Senior VP & GM Rebecca Schulte said DC "has a buzz, and it's been there, but with Obama it's taking this huge jump to a new level." Greater Washington Sports Authority (GWSA) President Bob Sweeney said that Obama's presence "could be helpful as the GWSA bids for several large sporting events," while the DCSEC also has "plans to take advantage of the Obama-fueled buzz." Sweeney: "We will use Obama as a hook." Lemke notes Obama's support of the Chicago 2016 bid "could pay off" for DC, as the area might "serve as a site for the Games' soccer competition like it did" for the '96 Atlanta Olympics (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/21).  

PITCH COUNT: The White Sox have invited Obama, a vocal supporter of the team, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at their April 6 home opener at U.S. Cellular Field, but White Sox VP/Communications Scott Reifert said that "may not happen." However, Reifert indicated that the team is "hopeful and has reached out in various ways to the White House." Obama also could throw out the ceremonial first pitch to "open the Nationals' season, following in tradition of sitting U.S. presidents" for baseball games in DC (MLB.com, 1/20). White Sox Senior Dir of Community Relations Christine O'Reilly said of capitalizing on Obama being a fan, "We'll give a hard look to see what we can do. We already do quite a bit on the community-relations front, but what more can we do?" White Sox VP & CMO Brooks Boyer added, "The nice part is the White Sox brand that stands for pride, passion and tradition is something that he's going to take to Washington because obviously he is a true White Sox fan. To be able to have the same brand values is something that I think not only will serve our country well, but will serve our fans well" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/21).

Lance Armstrong, Who Has Met With Obama
Several Times, Is Optimistic About His Presidency
CHANGES WE CAN BELIEVE IN: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes to Obama, "You talk of 'the work of remaking America,' but it will be equally important to remake the play of America, because games are a reflection of a nation's health and ours could do with some reform." Jenkins offers 10 recommendations for Obama's presidency (WASHINGTON POST, 1/21). Cyclist Lance Armstrong, who awoke early in the morning in Australia where he is competing in the Tour Down Under to watch the inauguration, said that he is "optimistic about Barack Obama's presidency." Armstrong added that Obama "brings 'tons of hope' to America and the world." Armstrong: "I can tell you that in my three or four encounters with him, meeting with him, he's been delightful, he's been smart, he's been present and he's been committed" (AP, 1/21). Celtics Managing Partner Steve Pagliuca, who attended yesterday's swearing-in ceremony, said, "We desperately need some new leadership in the country. We have a tough economic situation. We've got the war in Iraq going on and Obama has a lot of issues to face, but he's a very, very smart guy" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/21).

HOOP DREAMS: In DC, Dick Heller writes, "No matter what other changes President Barack Obama brings to the District and the nation, one appears certain. Basketball will replace baseball as the sport of choice in the White House" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/21). ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap said Obama “has created an administration that could be called a basketball team of rivals” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 1/20). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes Obama "campaigned on a platform of 'Change,' and indeed having a basketball-obsessed president is uncharted water." Basketball's "soaring international popularity" can be the "most beneficial to Obama as he attempts to repair an image of the U.S. presidency that has reached record lows abroad" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/21). Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy: “This is a great moment. It’s a great moment for America. He’s a sports fan. He’s a baller” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 1/20).  ESPN’s Tim Legler said, "You have never heard basketball in the White House, so this is a great thing for all of us that have made our lives through this game and love covering it.” ESPN's Chris Broussard added, "I really think it could help some of the younger players in the league mature, particularly the African-American players, because these guys may have actually significant interaction with the leader of the free world" (“NBA Coast-to-Coast,” ESPN, 1/20).

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