Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obamaball: Sally Jenkins' Agenda for Sports

As usual, a provocative take from the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins -- laying out an agenda of sports reform for President Obama. I would call it hit-or-miss:

(1) Get rid of the BCS. Really? As the No. 1 priority? For a thoughtful sports thinker like Jenkins, this is ludicrous. (She is correct, however, that a simple threat of taking away college tax benefits would be a game-changer.)

(2) Declare freshman ineligible. Hate it. Only if it went hand-in-hand with insisting that the NFL and NBA got rid of their age minimums for draft eligibility. Forcing a pro-worthy player to toil in college for two years -- when they have no actual interest in college beyond its role as a stepping-stone to the pros -- is counter-productive.

(3) Dress more appropriately for golf. A bit prudish, but fair.

(4) Play Candace Parker 1-on-1 at the White House, to generate more support for women's basketball. I like the symbol, but it's pretty empty -- leagues must move the needle themselves.

(5) National Anthem played IN TUNE at all sports events. Fair, but here's a better idea: Ditch the Anthem for "America the Beautiful" or -- as witnessed Sunday -- "This Land Is Your Land."

(6) Save tennis. Eh. This is like saving the banking industry -- the sport did this to themselves.

(7) Final Four back in arenas, not domes. Better idea: 75 percent of tickets must be ear-marked for fans. Even better idea: All major sports championships must earmark more tickets for fans than are given to corporate sponsors, and at reasonable rates.

(8) Equal pay for women's sports. I fully support it, but Jenkins cherry-picks the Pearl-Summitt comparison. When women's sports bring in the revenue of men's, it is a stronger argument. (See women's tennis, where pay inequity is a joke.) For women in the front office? Absolutely. And, while we're at it: More women and minorities in the front office.

(9) Pardon Marion Jones. You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry that prosecutors haven't done a better job with the other steroid felons, but that doesn't mean Jones should get off. Her betrayal of sports and fans was one of the Top 3 worst of the 20th Century in American sports. She didn't seem particularly remorseful when she was collecting all those medals -- or collecting all those endorsement checks.

(10) Force Dan Snyder to hire a GM. Now THERE you go.

I would add a few others:
-Obliterate AAU and start over.
-Mandate any team relocating to give a substantial cash rebate to fans.
-Develop an unobtrusive test for HGH.
-Legalize sports gambling but tax the hell out of it.
-Name Tim Tebow to lead President's Council on Physical Fitness.

From the serious to the silly, do you have any other items on a sports to-do list for Obama?

-- D.S.


Michael Moulton said...

Just because people can't sing the anthem is no reason to ditch it. It has meaning to our history unlike the silly little songs you suggest replacing it with.

Richard K. said...

Better idea:

No sportswriters are allowed to mention a lack of black coaches unless they mention the even lower number of Jewish coaches.

Mark Edmonds said...

Regulate that during times when multiple sports are being broadcast (College Football Saturdays, for example), there can never be a time when every single broadcast is showing commercials.

Unknown said...

Let Obama veto the MLB's decision to disallow Mark Cuban's bid for the Cubs...He's done wonders for the Mavs, let him help my Cubs!

Drunken Loo said...

Re: Tennis (specifically Grand Slam events)

If women did equal work (i.e. best of 5 sets), then they deserve equal pay. Else, how is it fair for the men?

Shane said...

It's obvious that you enjoy taking a foray into politics. Why not start a political quickie where u touch on the most important politics/news stories of the day like u do with sports.

Brendan Smith said...

Ditch the National Anthem...Really, I'm gonna forget you just suggested that. How about just showing some respect for it. Stand up, HAT OFF, hand/hat over your heart and can you exercise just a little self control and shut up (if you aren't singing along) for the two minutes it takes.