What does your favorite athlete say about you? Bill Littlefield compares the favorite athletes of Senators John McCain and soon-to-be President Barack Obama and what their choices might say about them.
John McCain told Sports Illustrated he likes boxing.
Barack Obama said he likes basketball. He likes it enough so that he said that if he became president, he might install a court at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hoop at the White House. Nice image. When asked to name athletes they admired, Barack Obama mentioned Arthur Ashe, the gentleman tennis champion who fought apartheid in South Africa and prejudice wherever he found it, often simply by being who he was.
John McCain went with fellow fighter pilot Ted Williams, who put his baseball career on hold to serve in the military in the Second World War and in Korea. He also mentioned once and perhaps future pitcher Curt Schilling, who endorsed McCain, appeared with him during the campaign, and, according to the former candidate, impressed McCain with his candor. Ted Williams may have been almost as great a hitter as he thought he was, which was very great indeed. All you had to do was ask him to learn that. He was also an exceptional pilot, and a vociferous patriot of the my-country-right-or-wrong school of patriotism. If his president had ordered him to bomb Canada, he’d have done it. Well, maybe not Canada. Good fishing there. Arthur Ashe’s courage was of a different sort. He established his excellence quietly in a game so thoroughly segregated that as a child he was not allowed to play on the public tennis courts near his home in Virginia…one of the states that presented Barack Obama with its electoral votes on Tuesday. So, yes. Change.
It would be silly to push this comparison much further, but it is, perhaps, revealing that while one candidate named as the athlete he most admired a bigger-than-life – and certainly louder than most – slugger who has often been characterized as a kind of real-life John Wayne, while the other chose a man whose game was characterized by his exceptional poise, balance, and grace.