November 24, 2009
Golf or basketball: which sport should President Obama follow?
The Wall Street Journal today focuses on a question of growing national importance: has the president ditched hoops in favor of golf?
Putting aside the resounding "who cares?" contingent, it's not an inconsequential question, at least from a public relations perspective. President Obama gained notoriety on the campaign trail as a regular guy who'd throw on some sweats and run up and down the court just like any other aging ex-jock. He apparently still has enough game to knock off the NCAA women's champion UConn Huskies in an impromptu game of P.I.G.
But since he's taken office, he's played much more golf than basketball -- 25 rounds to seven games, according to the poor soul whose job it is to keep track of such minutiae. And that's apparently upset some people who'd like to see the president playing more basketball. (Really, though, can a president do anything without upsetting somebody?)
"The fact that he isn't playing [basketball]...is a metaphor for those people who think he's gotten soft, backed off of his promises, sold out," the WSJ quoted Claude Johnson, founder of the website Baller-in-Chief. "When President Obama goes back to basketball, that will be a sign that we haven't lost the original guy."
Yeah, perhaps. Or perhaps this is reaching just a wee bit too much for a story. Thing is, presidents golf. A lot. Dwight Eisenhower played Augusta National so frequently he's got a tree named after him. Bill Clinton enjoyed the game, though -- make of this what you will -- he took so many "extra" shots that his playing partners began calling them "Billigans." George W. Bush played plenty of golf early on in his administration, though he took grief for mixing pleasure with business (the infamous "now watch this drive" moment) and later stopped playing during wartime.
I understand the need for a president to be discreet about these kinds of activities; the last thing that someone who's struggling with his or her day-to-day life needs to see is the Commander-in-Chief strolling a golf course and laughing. Not quite the tighten-the-belt-and-work-harder image you want to project, you know?
Still, I'm all for the president getting out and playing a few rounds. Guy's got a tough job; least he ought to be able to get out of the gig is a couple hours on the course. If I were president -- and this is one reason of many I'm not -- I'd have tee times on call at Pebble Beach, Augusta and Sawgrass. Any president has earned the right to big-time his way onto the country's marquee courses.
Having said that, President Obama may not want to give up on hoops entirely. Put aside the whole "break the ankles of your opposition" thing; the Wizards are awful this year, and he could surely get a gig as a swingman coming off the bench. Would make more money than his current job, too.
Okay, your turn. Which sport should the president play? Or should he leave the games to others and work, work, work?
Quietly, the President finds that golf is no slam dunk [Wall Street Journal]