SBD/June 3, 2014/Sports in Society

Obama Using Sports, Youth Initiatives To Reshape Image Of His Presidency

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Obama is playing more golf, seemingly replacing basketball as his go-to sport
President Obama has a "newfound realism" that also has "given him a palpable sense of liberation," according to Budoff Brown & Epstein of POLITICO, who profile him under the header, "The Obama Paradox." Obama has become "more deliberate in finding ways to break out" as President. In a "departure from a long practice of keeping his circle strikingly tight and rarely lingering at official events, Obama has been hosting star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight and inviting a few newcomers such as former NBA star Alonzo Mourning into his social sphere." Obama is "playing golf more than any other year, replacing basketball as his go-to sport, partly because of concerns about getting injured." A review of Obama's schedule shows that he "spent 46 days on the golf course in 2013, up from about 30 rounds during each of his first three years in office and 19 in 2012." By contrast, he "hasn't left the White House since November to play basketball, a game central to his routine in the early days." Although he will "still shoot hoops on the grounds, he doesn't do it as often as he once did." Meanwhile, donors who have "encountered Obama at recent fundraisers say he's been quick to steer conversations away from policy and toward sports, particularly the NBA playoffs, which he follows obsessively." Obama has talked to Mourning "about the landscape of nonprofits" that offer youth outreach in hopes of "getting a better sense of how his post-presidency initiatives would fit in." The Mourning Foundation, run by the basketball HOF-elect and his wife, reaches out to "underprivileged kids and young adults in South Florida." Mourning said, "He is trying to figure out the formula of success so that we can take more of a national approach to make a difference, so we can affect the masses from that perspective" (POLITICO.com, 6/1).
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