As if the nation was eagerly anticipating the departure of President Barack Obama from office – which, given the state of the economy, the destruction of the healthcare system and several ongoing scandals, it probably is – one or two stories have recently appeared in the media that speculate on what the first family will do after the President’s second term in office is over.
For the record, this writer is not entirely convinced that Obama will actually be leaving office unless he is dragged out by the military or by a revolutionary mob; either one of which may eventually prove necessary. Assuming, however, that he does the country a service, for once, and vacates the White House, might he find himself hosting an ESPN sports show?
According to a report in USA Today, the President – during a recent visit to the DreamWorks Animation campus in California – candidly revealed that he has something in mind for his first-ever real private sector job: “At least I know what I want to do when I retire … host ESPN SportCenter’s Top 10 list,” he said. Apparently, this remark was met with some merriment, which is not surprising, since Obama’s knowledge of American sports appears to be virtually non-existent.
Politicians on both sides of the political divide are well-known for their sports-related flubs; John Kerry, Mitt Romney, John McCain, the late – but not lamented – Ted Kennedy and Martha Coakley are among those elected public servants who have displayed ignorance of sports teams or traditions. Obama himself, however, is the least deserving of receiving a pass over his numerous gaffes; after all, one of the many myths created around him has been his reputation as an athlete and avid sports fan. His only known athletic achievement, of course, is the hundreds of miles he has walked on golf courses since he was first elected President. Footage of him on the basketball court has often been staged to show him making a shot – after missing it numerous times off-camera. Some of his greatest mishits relating to sports include praising the “Miami Heats” for winning the NBA Championship in 2012 and referring to the Penn State football team as the “Nittaly Lions” during a 2008 campaign stop in Pennsylvania. Baseball knowledge, it is evident, is also not a strongpoint of the President’s: His cringe-inducing attempts to pitch a baseball aside, he seems to have no knowledge of the very team he professes to love. In 2010, when asked by a reporter to name some of his favorite Chicago White Sox players, he struck out completely; stammering “You know, uh…I thought that, you know…the truth is that a lot of the Cubs I liked too.” He then went on to recall how much he had liked visiting “Cominskey Park.”
So, could the President learn enough about American sports to host a show on ESPN? Certainly, he could discuss golf, having played a staggering 150 rounds between taking office and the beginning of November 2013. To be fair, being the leader of the free world is, arguably, the most stressful job there is and few reasonable people would begrudge a US President some free-time. The perception, however, has never been good for Obama; particularly when he hits the fairways during times of deep national or international crisis. Echoes of Nero fiddling while Rome burned come to mind.
Were the President to try his hand at being a sportscaster, what might we expect? Would he excuse his ignorance of the latest scores by claiming that no-one told him any games were being played? Might he blame a White Sox loss on the obstructionism of the opposing team? Perhaps he will call for the equal distribution of salaries amongst all the players on a sports team – after all; there comes a time when a franchise quarterback has earned enough money, surely.
Still, if Keith Olbermann can do it…
Satire by Graham J Noble