With the election now over and President-elect Barack Obama slated to be sworn in two days after the NFL Conference Championships, the world of sports has a lot of things to prepare for.
Sports have played a part in the presidency since the early 19th century, when William Howard Taft tossed a ball from the stands to Washington Senators legend Walter Johnson.
Obama will probably follow in his footsteps, as Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams made the “executive decision” to pencil him in for the 2009 home opener.
The election of Obama has sparked thousands of blog posts, articles, headlines, and covers of periodicals and newspapers. Yet, the sports community has also taken part in the buzz, looking ahead to what the next president might do for the sports world.
First, the economic policies that Obama has proposed will affect the rich. Most professional athletes are among those elite. Hopefully this does not cause a fuss among the athletic community.
For example, in baseball, the minimum salary next year will be $400,000. If this is the primary source of one’s income, they will be taxed at 39.6%, leaving them with $245,600.
State taxes will impact this even more. What I envision for these next couple years is a humbling of these athletes. We as a nation always talk about the fat-cat executives and money-hoarding CEOs while Mike Hampton earns $15 million a year to rehab from injuries and Manny Ramirez is being offered $25 million every year until he’s 42-years-old.
I hope that these taxes will just impress upon these athletes that, even though they provide a great service in entertainment, these contracts are reaching ludicrous proportions.
Second, it will probably not happen because of Obama’s influence, but his enforcement of a college football playoff on this week’s Monday Night Football halftime show has drawn praise from many top coaches of BCS programs.
He also refuses to pander to football teams, stating that his Chicago Bears will have to continue on without quarterback Kyle Orton. Obama’s familiarity with this system is further proving his connection with both, as he puts it, “Main Street,” as well as the young people who follow these sports so closely.
Third, it seems very likely that his election could bring the United States back in the Olympic hosting race.
San Francisco came closest a year ago, but with his election, and his reception around the world, Chicago in 2016 is now very plausible.
Also, in 2005, the International Olympic Committee voted baseball and softball out of the Olympics in 2012 and beyond. At the time of this vote, the director of the International Softball Federation stated, “"I think anti-Americanism was a factor." Now, Cleveland Indians GM says, "I think clearly how the world looks at America is going to be different with Barack Obama in the White House.”
Obama’s election has drawn much praise world-wide, and if he establishes himself on an international scale, it could give his home city of Chicago a boost for the 2016 bid, with the reinsertion of baseball and softball a very likely condition for the White Sox-loving president.
With the exception of All-American Michigan Wolverine Gerald Ford, Barack Obama is the most sports talented president (elect) of this century (and probably forever).
He’s been seen to play basketball almost everywhere he goes, whether it is with Army Rangers in Iraq or the unanimous number one ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
He “jokes” about taking out the White House bowling alley and replacing it with a basketball court, but we’ll see who’s laughing when the hardwood comes in.
Obama’s presidency will hopefully benefit the sports world, with fewer Congressmen clamoring about steroids and more starting to care about what really matters: a college football playoff.
Just kidding, but with Barack in the White House, hopefully American lawmakers will have less time to convict Barry Bonds of perjury and be spending more time finding a remedy for global warming, preserving the possibility of more outdoor NHL games.
Sports hasn’t been affected by our Commander in Chief in a long time, so let’s take this new presidency as a time to find our true passion and patriotism: the American sports culture.
Besides, it’s always nice to know that the President of the United States is going to be watching the Bears game with you every Sunday.
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