UPDATE to yesterday's late post about ESPN cancelling a scheduled podcast interview between Barack Obama and Bill Simmons.
There's a theory that fans don't want to mix politics and sports. First of all, a conversation with Obama could/would have been entirely about basketball, because the interviewer is a basketball fan -- it is why Obama's hoops passion has been a popular meme for bloggers for the last year (or more).
Second, I disagree with that premise -- I'm a politics junkie AND a sports fan. And there is more interest in politics now -- among the public at large -- than there has been in a long time, and I presume that there are at least a few sports fans who also care about politics this year. Do fans want me to mix "David Ortiz is struggling" with "McCain's economic plan is sketchy?" Of course not.
But given Obama's passion for basketball (and sports more generally -- as a fan), I think talking about the intersection of Obama's interests (sports) and fans' interests (sports) is no more out of bounds than talking with Will Ferrell about his love of USC football while Ferrell is trying to promote his new movie. Everyone has an agenda -- it's up to the interviewer not to blindly play to it... and up to fans to recognize it.
(Last point: I haven't seen anyone else pick up on this, but please note that there was no apparent problem with "politics" when leveraging Obama's popularity by putting him at the beginning of that Monday Night Football broadcast back in the fall of 2006.)