Courtesy of the PBS News Hour, fans of the World Champion Chicago Cubs (still seems weird, doesn’t it?) can re-live the latest moment in their championship parade, likely the purest fun the team will have prior to raising the championship banner at Wrigley in a matter of months.
In visiting the White House at this particular time, in time to see this particular cool duck (never a lame) president, the Cubs were able to pay homage to another true Chicago original and provide Barack Obama with an appropriate capper to the series of events that best showcased his passion as an athlete and sports fan — welcoming champions to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and honoring them.
Modern presidents have done well in building and adding definition to the role of “First Fan,” from about Reagan on you can find intimate ties between the leaders of our country and certain franchises, powerful university programs and standout athletes, expected tasks of the Head of State seem to now include calling up major champions during the night of their greatest success and hosting any and all champs in feel-good media events like what we see above.
You can actually look deeper and find deeper levels of context with this particular visit — Laura Ricketts’ handing of a lifetime pass to the President (certainly wasn’t going to be Tom, or Todd), First Lady Michelle’s exposed Cub fandom (at a crossroads with her established identity as a “South Side girl,” the simple fact that the Cubs put a rush order to get this visit in for Obama (instead of playing as a test case for President-Elect Trump, to whom these events may not be as frequent or as fun-filled).
But beyond any partisan fault-lines that we as media in-takers can trip over, its simply does one good to see one more platform for Obama to make quips and for the Cubbies to puff their chests out. In a matter of days, the ability for both entities to exist as they did Monday will not be afforded to them, such is the life for reigning champions of ball and resigned champions of the people.
Not only can we think of Obama as a special “First Fan,” due to his passion and knowledge of sports. As much as any modern prez, Obama walked it like he talked it on one particular playing field — the basketball court. Given his role as the first black president in the United States, Obama’s love of basketball provided him with a certain authenticity culturally among other sports fans and individually with the ballers he met face to face in the West Wing.
Check out this cool ESPN feature narrated by Scoop Jackson which details the interconnection between Obama and what its meant for the game during these historic years.
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