Collier: Ask what this man can do for your sport
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Separate from the looming jump ball on tax policy, the re-election of Barack Obama figures to have approximately zero impact on the widening world of sports, which is precisely what most people would prefer.
But not me.
I know Americans have generally grown comfortable with limited government when it comes to sports, with even the POTUS himself limited to throwing out ceremonial first pitches, phoning the guy holding the Lombardi Trophy, and hosting White House photo ops for everyone from the Stanley Cup Champions Except Tim Thomas to the national champions in NCAA women's volleyball.
You'll remember Thomas, the Boston Bruins goalie who demurred on the White House trip as a symbolic swipe at government "out of control." Thomas took a battering of criticism, which was generally as pointless as his gesture. I say let freedom ring.
Personally, I'd make Obama commissioner of everything if I thought he'd have a similar impact as the first statement he made about sports, coming soon after he was elected in 2008.
"I think any sensible person would say that if you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear, decisive winner, that we should be creating a playoff system -- eight teams," Obama told Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" four years ago this month. "That would be three rounds, to determine a national champion. It would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm gonna throw my weight around on this. I think it's the right thing to do."
No one ever credited Obama with throwing anything around regarding college football thereafter, and probably no one should, but you'll notice that college football will have a playoff system beginning in 2014 after more than a century of insisting it didn't need one.
Obama didn't get his eight-team format. He got half of that. But he got something, as did the rest of us.
For filling out his NCAA tournament bracket every year, Obama gets mostly criticism for fiddling with trivia while the world goes to hell far out of range of the 10-foot basket. Most of that carping is misplaced, too. It's not like he's got an app for getting Evgeni Malkin updates for his Kontinental Hockey League fantasy team. There's fiddling and then there's really fiddling, right?
But now it's time for Obama not only to govern free from the chore of getting elected, it's time for him to mention a few other things about sports because, to quote the great Andujar: "One word, yaneverknow."
Job One: Pull college basketball off these aircraft carriers.
Inspired by the NHL's Winter Classic, which takes a sport meant to be played at its higher levels indoors and casts it out into the January elements, college basketball has taken a game meant to be played in cozy gymnasiums and splayed it across the decks -- or tried to, anyway, before elements intervened -- of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla., and USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., this week.
Is this the best use of these ships? Frankly, college basketball might be better with horses and bayonets.
Secondly, Obama should let it be known that he's willing to use all the resources of the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, the CIA, and any other entity within the auspices of the Commander in Chief to reach a lasting settlement between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, the interminable sophomoric haggling between whom on ESPN's HowMuchCanUTake has become a canker sore on the First Amendment. Military options should remain on the table.
Thirdly, speaking of the military, Obama should move swiftly to ban all military terms from football broadcasts for perpetuity. I'd urge that he do that this morning, Veterans Day 2012. Because regardless of what you hear during these games, there are no warriors in football, unless you mean Pat Tillman. There are no fox holes, no games decided in the trenches, no heroes like the men and women the Steelers will honor before their game Monday night, including a Pearl Harbor survivor, a World War II vet, a Tuskegee Airman, veterans of the Korean War and Vietnam War, and veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military flyover will honor the memory of Lt. Col. Christopher "Otis" Raible, an Irwin native killed in September in Afghanistan.
We might never get the blitz and the bomb out of football, but we can demonstrate that we know the difference between a warrior and a weakside linebacker.
Fourthly, Obama might mention that "Survivor" is no place for ex-baseball players, particularly if they're going to bark out their tens of millions in career earnings and then complain about taxes.
Or did you miss Jeff Kent doing exactly that?
"You know what pissed me off?" said the old Giants second baseman after getting eliminated last week, "I think I've made about $60 million playing baseball (closer to $90 million, according to baseballreference.com), and I want this frickin' million dollars in this game and it's not even a million bucks; it's 600 grand by the time Obama takes it! I'm a Game 7 World Series loser. You know, I've played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world, but this just sucks."
Seriously? Can you pass me those tissues while I look up the number for Amnesty International?
Fifthly and finally, Mr. President, could I get a mention for my long-standing idea that jockeys should dress like golfers and golfers like jockeys? Long overdue.
First Published November 11, 2012 12:00 am