Eschewing such obvious choices as Stephon Marbury, Sean Avery or Roger Clemens, Dan Shanoff‘s pick for Sportsman Of The Year is none other than President Elect Barack Obama, “as close to a sports fan like you or me as has ever been in the White House.” Were he alive, Dick Nixon might well disagree.
Here is the case for Barack Obama as Sportsman of the Year:
*Single-handedly re-drew the sports-cultural map, with basketball — certainly pick-up basketball — back in its center, thanks to the gravity of the man’s passion for the game.
*Successfully used basketball as a centerpiece of his campaign, from the fields of Indiana to the UNC practice court in Chapel Hill to military-base gyms around the world.
*Laid out a brilliant anti-fairweather summation of his fandom for the White Sox over the Cubs.
*Used the bully pulpit of the Presidency to lobby for… a college football playoff.
He plays pick-up hoops. He watches SportsCenter. He has a strong opinion on a college football playoff. When asked, he answers questions about sports in the same way you or I would.
Unless or until our new Chief Executive speaks in support of the Death Penalty (for Scott Schoeneweis), I don’t think it is entirely fair to say Barack Obama has the same fan sensibility as this correspondent. But I take Shanoff’s general point and if we’ve reached the point where a political figure’s sports credibility is seen as relevant, I greatly look forward to Joe Benigno-Gazingo’s long awaited run for public office.