Is Obama Ready to Play Ball?

by Sam Benjamin

President-elect Barack Obama won’t be inaugurated until January 20, 2009. However his impact on the sporting world is already being felt less than a week after his historic victory.

“There are a number of meaningful areas where he will have a bearing, before he even takes office,” said sports business consultant Marc Ganic, who advised the New York Yankees on the financing of their new stadium. “From contracts to steroid testing policies to even the structure of certain sports, Obama’s interest in sport could spur him toward a major reform of organized American athletics.”

The most instant influence Obama will have on the sporting world is expected to come in the way his tax plan will affect highly paid professional athletes. Throughout the election, Obama spoke of cutting taxes for those earning less than $250,000 a year and increasing the top federal tax rate from 35% to 39.6 %, two moves which would certainly take money out of ballplayers bank accounts.

“There is considerable consideration to be had with the impact of the election on my clients,” said sports agent Scott Boras to the New York Daily News Tuesday. “But a majority of professional athletes have been well managed and they should prosper financially despite these economic times.”

Another area within sports that President-Elect Obama may have an impact on could be the chances of his adopted hometown of Chicago landing the 2016 Olympics.

“In the interest of full disclosure, I have to let you know that in 2016, I’ll be wrapping up my second term as president,” said Obama this past June at an event marking Chicago being named a finalist to host the 2016 games. “So I can’t think of a better way than to be marching into Washington Park alongside Mayor Daley . . . as president of the United States and announcing to the world, ‘Let the games begin.”

Chicago’s competition for the 2016 Games includes Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan. However despite the stiff competition, many experts agree that Obama’s encouragement could play key role in Chicago being selected to host the games.

“Obama’s support for Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid will be critical, said Lester Munson of ESPN. “His presence in Copenhagen, Denmark next October for an International Olympic Committee event could easily win the Olympics for the city.”

The prospect of hosting the games in America is already intriguing students at Marist College.

“I would be thrilled if Chicago got the 2016 games,” Said sophomore Pat Caputo. “I’ve never been to the Olympics before and if they were in Chicago I would certainly make an effort to be there and witness history.”

Less than a week after Obama’s historic victory much is still unknown about what he will do during his time as President. However, with that said, the avid Chicago White Sox fan may already have plans for the 76th day of his presidency on Monday, April 6th.

“I’ll make an executive decision right now,” said White Sox general manager Ken Williams Wednesday at baseball’s GM meetings in California. “Let this be a formal invitation: If he would like to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day next year, we can find a spot for him.”

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