Politics and Sports Part Two: The Obama Effect on the Sport’s World

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about how sports and politics interact. At the end, I came to the conclusion that if and when they interact, it should only produce positive outcomes. But that is easier said than done.
With the President-elect Barack Obama coming into office very shortly, it is inevitable that we will see a heightened involvement in sports from the government. Obama’s love for sports was widely documented and used as a positive quality to look for in our next president. He plays basketball to relax and frequents White Sox games all-the-while talking a little smack about Cubs fans. His appreciation for sports is genuine and passionate, or so it seems.
With that being the case, how involved will the government now be in sports?
The first apparent sign of involvement will be the day Obama goes to Copenhagen, Denmark next year to put in the United States’ bid for the 2016 Olympics. Already, there is a lot of hype surrounding this bid for his hometown, Chicago. It is being compared to Tony Blair and how his charisma knocked out France for the 2012 Olympics and landed them in London. The Japanese are a top bid with Tokyo but have expressed concern about how good of a speaker Obama is. Japan, along with the Brazil and Spain, are now all worried that Obama’s supposed rock-star presence at the International Olympic Committee meeting next October will finalize an Olympics in Chicago.
That is exactly what I am talking about when I want politics only influencing a positive outcome in the sports world.
But what about another issue that Obama has already expressed interest in? On Monday Night Football last week, Obama denounced the BCS system and expressed how it should be taken out, only to be replaced by a playoff.
“I am fed up with these computer rankings and this and that,” Obama said in his interview with ESPN’s Chris Berman. “Get the top eight teams at the end and you got a playoff, [and that will] decide a national champion.”
That is diplomacy, people. But is it too much? Is it the position of the president to put his two cents into sports-related issues?
I happen to think not. However, it is hard to deny the enthusiasm that our president-elect has for sports, and if anyone could change something like the BCS, it would be Obama. The only problem with that is, where does it go from there? Will he be the guy that leagues go to for support on issues like playoff series lengths, season lengths and union-based discrepancies? Is Obama’s love of sports the gift and the curse for players, owners and fans?
The most annoying part about this topic is all the question marks that come along with it. We simply do not know how our new administration will impact the world of sports.
There are still some issues that are lingering from the current administration, like the Clemens investigation. If that does not conclude itself before the Bush administration is out of office, it will be up to Obama and his attorney general to decide what the next steps are. And for many controversial athletes, that is probably unnerving. The entire realm of performance-enhancing drugs was not addressed by Obama throughout his campaign and that has been where the most government involvement in sports has taken place in recent years.
So where does that stand? I don’t know. But I do know he loves sports. And as a person that loves sports, the last thing I would do in a position of power is change something that would hinder the integrity of the game. If Obama’s passion is sincere, we should not worry about his involvement because it will be based on him being a fan, not a politician. That is a good thing.
Don’t believe the hype, believe the Hypothesis.