(This is part two of a series on the relationship between President Barack Obama and our popular culture. Please see part one, "ObamaRama, The Beginning" should the spirit so move you, and it probably should.)
One of the fantastic facets of sports is that people who have extreme ideological differences can come together and agree on certain principles of athletic competition. Can't agree on immigration? Well, maybe you feel the same way about the Jay Cutler trade.
Still skeptical about the president's stimulus plan? Well, maybe you agree with him that we should have a playoff in college football.
Obama took office hoping to rattle a few cages and break the mold. At least with this topic he's done just that. In March he even took some time and threw down an NCAA tournament bracket on national television while admitting he would sneak in watching a little bit of the games while flying to Europe. Even during the campaign Obama took a breather to help Rick Reilly pick his fantasy football team.
For all his interests, the fellow is a sports nut. President Bush had a passion for baseball (he had partial ownership in the Texas Rangers) and those before them played athletics up through college. Others would simply do the bare minimum by inviting championship teams to the White House and throwing out first pitches. But Obama has displayed, among other human elements, the presidential equivalent of face paint.
A sporting event is really a microcosm of classism in America. The blue collar workers in the nosebleeds, braving weather and long lines just to barely get into a stadium. The CEOs sit in the luxury suites showing up in the 2nd inning and leaving in the 7th, not really sure the names of the players down below. Whether it's intentionally symbolic or not, President Obama has infused his stature with the ability to still enjoy sports like a common man. It may or may not mean he'll go to bat for the average citizen, but it's certainly unprecedented for a government ruler who normally keeps his hobbies as secret as possible while he's in office.
Dirt Off His Shoulders
While every President reflects his place in culture in some way, most avoid alienating the general public by keeping their cultural references subtle. President Bush often used language that evangelical Christians recognized but left most people unaware of his intentions. President Obama hasn't been president for long yet, but already during his campaign, he gave us at least one example of his approach:
Just as some wondered why evangelical Christians considered President Bush one of their own, completely missing the cultural references, some actually debated whether then-Senator Obama was saying anything other than the obvious as he brushed off his shoulders.