Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yet Another Sign of the Changing of the Guard?

Obama and basketball, not quite the global game, but close. Definitely, the urban game of the people.
Presidents have often played sports. Teddy Roosevelt liked to ride in Rock Creek Park and exercise vigorously. Eisenhower played golf. Richard Nixon bowled (and had an alley installed at Camp David). Jimmy Carter famously jogged. Clinton jogged and played golf but never tried basketball again as president. George W. Bush rode his mountain bike and had a daily workout. But these were all relatively solitary (or perhaps elitist) sports. Basketball is more social -- an urban game -- and it has become a truly global sport. For years, Michael Jordan, not the U.S. president, was the best known American in China. World class players from all over the globe try to make the NBA. Having a U.S. president who is a serious hoopster is great public diplomacy -- but the man needs a decent place to play. The current outdoor court on the White House grounds doesn't cut it.