A short memo to Mr. Obama

Now that there’s a man in the White House with some basketball pedigree and a passion for sports, what impact will that have on the North American realm of pro sports?
Well, I have some advice for Barack Obama, and since he’s undoubtedly an avid reader of this column, what better way to reach out to him than to do so in this space?
Mr. President, here’s some pressing sports matters you can address when you’re finished clearing the United States of its massive credit crunch and skyrocketing unemployment rates:
No. 1, and probably most importantly, get the NHL back on the radar in your country.
Hockey players (for the most part, at least) aren’t your typical felons who have arrest records longer than their stats sheets. Hockey players are role models who reinforce wholesome values rather than lavish expense and criminal misconduct.
You won’t see NHL players getting off the team bus with chains hanging down to their waist while sporting “Reeboks with the straps.”
Give the sport a chance, Mr. Obama. It’s got a lot to offer, and believe me, a good number of league franchises in your country gravely need the endorsement.
Another thing you’ve already talked about doing, and which I wholeheartedly agree, is removing the Bowl Championship Series in college football. It’s a joke and you know it.
You’ve discussed creating an eight-team playoff format, similar to NCAA basketball’s “March Madness,” and it makes sense. Actually, this may be one of the easiest things to accomplish because the public at large surely will back it.
The only opposition to a playoff format likely would come from the elitist governing minority of the college football conferences, who pocket millions in bowl revenue for themselves from such traditional championships as the “Capital One Bowl.” Yuck.
Get rid of the money grab and allow college football to crown one real champion for once.
And while you’re at it, Barack (since we’re on a first-name basis now), why don’t you throw tennis a bone? Pick up a racquet, play a little with cameras nearby, and show us basketball isn’t the only sport involving a court that you play.
Where have the John McEnroes and Billie Jean Kings gone? Public tennis courts have longer grass sprouting through the cracks than those found in the rough at golf’s U.S. Open.
Tennis gained a reputation as expensive and elitist some years ago, but golf had the same stigma and it is as popular as ever. Tennis is inexpensive and easy to play outdoors, and shouldn’t require a fancy cardigan to fit in with your typical tennis-club crowd. Make it cool again.
Oh, and one other thing, Mr. President. You should reconsider your decision to cheer for the Pittsburgh Steelers in this Sunday’s Super Bowl. Your mission statement from Day One has been built on change and resiliency—eerily similar to what the Arizona Cardinals have exemplified this season, wouldn’t you say?
Often the laughing stock of the NFL, the Cardinals have been a charter member of the league and have relocated three times, only winning a championship once in 1947 (before the league even had the Super Bowl).
You hope to lift the United States out of a prolonged drought, and that’s just what is happening to the hard-luck Cards.
It’s a perfect match, don’t you think? Your rise to the presidency and this improbable team forever can be linked as signalling a new era in the U.S. Anything is possible! Right?
But instead, you are supporting the heavyweight Pittsburgh Steelers—a long-established team that’s routinely on top and is no stranger to the spotlight. They use a conservative defensive style that limits the creativity and offensive explosiveness of their opponents.
You are cheering for the rich-get-richer story, rather than the upward social mobility of the underdog, where anything is possible no matter the odds. You are cheering for the favourite over the underdog.
That’s the opposite of what your campaign and subsequent stint in the Oval Office is said to be aimed at achieving.
C’mon, Mr. Obama. Get with the program.

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