Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My Sportsman of the Year: Barack Obama

Unsurprisingly, Michael Phelps is SI's Sportsman of the Year. He should be everyone's Sportsman of the Year. He is arguably Sportsman of the Decade and, if you believed me back during the Games, he is the Greatest. Sportsman. Ever.

But he is NOT the Sportsman of the Year.

The Sportsman of the Year is Barack Obama.

Much as he will be named regular ol' "Person of the Year" in a consensus probably not seen in the history of "Person of the Year" award-giving, he similarly deserves Sportsman of the Year.

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.

*Inspired amazing T-shirts like this and this and this. (And video mixtapes like this.)

*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.

Mostly, Barack Obama is as close to a sports fan like you or me as has ever been in the White House.

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.

In short, Obama cares about sports like a fan cares about sports, and to that point, the strongest reason for his selection as Sportsman of the Year:

Obama became the ultimate representation of the fan ascending to the top of the power structure in sports
, a moment that has been building for the past decade.

That's why Barack Obama is my pick for 2008 Sportsman of the Year.

For your Comments: Who is YOUR Sportsman of the Year? And, if you think Phelps is the overwhelming choice, who would be your runner-up?

-- D.S.

UPDATE: And it appears that SI's Seth Davis beat me to it. Kudos on an inspired choice, Seth. (Although a bit ironic, given that Seth's father, Lanny Davis, was Hillary Clinton's designated on-air hatchet man against Obama during the primaries -- and even beyond into the general. You can't spell "Oedipal" or "Obama" without "O," I guess.)


amr said...

I'm all for Hussain Bolt... shattering a record while coasting the last quarter. Plus, he's a dancehall fan.

James said...

Once again, Darvin Ham is overlooked. U R SO BIASED!

bird said...

How about three levels of Sportsperson of the Year? The three levels would be individual professional, individual amateur participant, and sports team of the year. Here are my selections:

Individual professional: Michael Phelps (he's been paid very well for his swimming for many years!)

Individual amateur participant: Barack Obama (for the reasons Dan mentioned in the Quickie.)

Sports team: New York Giants (They proved everyone wrong last February, and despite all kinds of distractions this season are odds-on favorites to repeat in the Super Bowl this February.)

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

Military bases? I thought Obama got rid of those!

DougOLis said...

Really? I love the guy too but I dunno about that man.

In all fairness couldn't you make a strong argument for the current commander-in-chief as just as big (if not more) sports fan too? He fit in far better in the booth at that Nationals Sunday Night Baseball game than in the White House and he was a large (maybe too large) presence at the Olympics. Hell, Obama wanted Bush to boycott the Olympics if I remember correctly (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here).

David Chalk said...

I still think Joe Maddon's the obvious and most deserving choice.

Unknown said...

I've been a fan since the early days of the quickie and continue to read your blog and columns because they open up the world of sports.

But every time I read your homages to Obama I have to put in my own interjection. "Pause while Dan wipes the excess drool from his chin caused by bobbing on Barack's knob too quickly." Seriously, it gets old fast.

Also, no one should complain about claiming Elisha Cuthbert as sloppy seconds!

josh said...

Don't forget the Obama gets it done island style too:

BD said...

Funny how W. was criticized for being too fit. The drivebys had a field day when he was biking around the ranch with Lance.

That said, my pick would be KG Ray Allen and PP for being back the concept of unselfish team play.