By MARK KNUDSON
Former President Barack Obama has never hidden his love of sports. From his famous pick-up basketball games with college players, to his rounds of golf with peeps like Derek Jeter, to his annual March Madness bracket challenges to his unprecedented five dozen White House visits with championship teams, Obama made sports something of a priority during his two terms in office.
Now it’s time for the sports world to make him a priority. Dude needs a job.
Oh sure, he could stay involved in politics, write a book and work for his new foundation, but where’s the challenge in that? After being the most powerful man on earth for eight years, slipping into the background and doing paperwork doesn’t seem like the right fit for a guy who isn’t even 60 years old yet. He has so much still to give to us as American sports fans.
When the outgoing President hosted the World Series champion Chicago Cubs during his final week in office, he told the crowd, “It’s worth remembering that throughout our history sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided. Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but ultimately made us think differently about ourselves and who we are. … Sports has a way of changing hearts in a way politics or business doesn’t.”
Professional sports could really use this man.
The current Commissioners of the four major American sports are locked in pretty solidly in their current jobs. None seem ready to retire just yet. And each league’s player’s union representation, while sometimes suspect, also seems to be pretty entrenched. What’s a lawyer/former POTUS left to do?
Few jobs seem large enough for him.
Perhaps there’s a gig for him with the United State Olympic committee? George Steinbrenner was once a fund raiser for the USOC. Mr. Obama is a tremendous fund raiser. The Stock Market nearly tripled during his time in office.
What about getting him appointed to the Court for Arbitration in Sports? A Harvard Law Grad and ardent student of legal history, Mr. Obama would be the perfect fit for such a position. Wouldn’t it be fun if he had to rule on a case that involved Vlad Putin’s Russian Doping scandals?
And Mr. Obama would most certainly dispense justice in a much more evenhanded manner than say, Roger Goodell for instance. He’s known to take his time, evaluate both sides of an issue and then make a fair and just ruling. Like when he granted clemency to the mother of Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas back in the summer of 2015, allowing Katrina Smith to be released from federal prison after serving 15 years for what could accurately be termed a minor offense.
It would be extremely valuable to have any of these jobs held by someone as esteemed, educated and experienced – along with being very knowledgeable about sports – as the former President.
Come to think of it, why limit his role? Heck, why not make him the ultimate Commissioner? The “Czar” of all American professional sports?
Mr. Obama, as the Pro Sports Czar, could be the ultimate arbitrator, the most qualified man on earth to handle such a position. He could be the final voice on issues such as drug testing and doping scandals, collective bargaining and labor disputes, as well as all things relating to disciplinary matters. His love of sports cannot be disputed. You know he’d always to the right thing for the game.
Alas, creating such a position would be next to impossible. About the only one who could even broach the subject would be the man who followed him into office, Donald Trump. Come to think of it, Mr. Trump already has more on his plate than he’s prepared to handle, so perhaps it’s best – for now – if Mr. Obama just gets on with writing that book. Sports isn’t going anywhere, and neither is he, thankfully.