You might be wondering what is the relationship between sports and Obama? Well the truth is that I just wanted to express my feeling on this historic election and needed a spin to publish it on our sports web site. However, with a little stretch we can make a slight correlation.
For example, yesterday I was in Harlem, at the Harlem State Office Building on 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard along with what appeared to be approximately another 50 thousand strong waiting for the election results on a giant TV screen. It was an incredible experience, especially since I have never done this before. Though I have an extensive back round in electoral politics, I have never felt this closely tied to any election. I believe that after having the worst eight years of what could possibly go down in history as the worst two terms of any President in recent memory had a lot to do with it.
The fact that I felt I had done more work for this Presidential campaign than any other was also a factor. I liked Barack Obama from the start. I remember reading a few articles about him two years ago. That caught my attention, but I began to pay closer attention when he announced his candidacy for President of the United States.
It did not take long for me to realize that I was going to throw my support to Obama. Everyone in my immediate circle was supporting, or about to support Hillary, Biden, Kucinich, Richardson, or Edwards. Very few had actually expressed support for Barack Obama. Perhaps because they taught that Obama’s candidacy was one of making a statement, or to galvanize the minority vote, something that had been done by previous African-American candidates like Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Those campaigns proved important to generate excitement in the African-American communities, get more minorities to register to vote, but they were not taken as serious campaigns to actually capture the most powerful seat in the world, President of the United States.
From the early inception of the campaign I heard Obama and felt that his words were impressive, but more important, he came across as a sincere person that made me feel that I had more in common with him than any of the other candidates. I became 100% convinced when I had a chance to see and hear him in person at an impromptu rally organized at the New Jersey Meadowlands. When I heard that he was going to appear I canceled all my appointments and drove out to see and hear the man that was creating a little murmur within the party, especially in the Hillary camp.
From the moment that I entered the Meadowland’s Arena I sensed what others had described as the “Obama Sensation.” I mean it was in the air, it was an excitement and I realized where it was coming from. It was coming from the large amount of young people present and the mixture of different cultures that also did what I did, took time off their regular day to see and hear the growing phenomena of this electoral process. Robert DeNiro, one of my favorite actors was a guest speaker and he stated that he has never endorsed a candidate before. He stated that he did not believe that actors should be endorsing candidates, but that in this case after meeting Barack Obama he went against his belief “to do the right thing and endorse Barrack Obama for President.” Those were some strong words and I was impressed, but not as impressed as when I heard Obama speak in person for the first time. I witnessed something that I have found to be very unique, a speaker that can actually touch you and that is one of Barrack Obama’s strengths, he touches people when he speaks and from my own experience as a guest lecturer in many a circuits, I know that you can not touch people when you speak unless you speak with passion and speak from the heart.
OK, now having said all that, where is the relationship between Obama and Sports? Well how about the fact that in order for him to have won this historic race he had to be like a great marathon runner. He began this race almost a year ago and paced himself in this long marathon of a campaign like a true champion.
I wonder how many other candidates could have withstood the pressures that he must have gone through when his campaign was rocked by all types of the most vicious accusations from both his Democratic opponent and later from the Christian right of the Republican Party. Like a true top athlete he endured everything that was thrown at him and batted the attacks out of the ball park, just like a Roberto Clemente who after having heard of a snob, or incorrect quote from the press would not allow it to affect his game and go out and play, hit a homerun, or do some spectacular to win a game and not allow the negativity that was thrown at him to affect his mission. If compared to a baseball player, Obama would definitely be a superstar.
Finally what about the experience of everyone who was watching the elections results like we were? Not just those in Harlem, but all over this country and in other parts of the world. Every time that the giant screen showed another state that went for Obama, the thousands of people began to cheer and chant, “Obama, Obama” like if we were watching a World Cup Soccer match and our national team had just scored another goal.
The celebration that ensued after CNN projected Barack Obama the next President of the United States was incredible. The screaming, the tears, the drums, music and chants was pure unadulterated excitement from people like me that would have never thought that this day would come in our lifetime. The day where a person of color, a young man who came from a separated family without a father figure who’s mother had to be on public assistance for a short period and raised by his grandmother would be the President of the United States. The celebration reminded me of the pandemonium that took place on the streets of South Bronx near Yankee stadium in 1977 when the Yankees won their first World Series after a 15 year drought.
If this was not enough, the victory speech that Obama gave was a perfect way to close this chapter of our history. It was a great motivational and educational speech where he mentioned everyone and everything that had taken place in the campaign. His speech prepared our country for the next level, the “Change” that we have all campaigned for. Obama used his strongest weapon, his ability to speak and let the world know that change has to come and though everyone might not be in agreement, it has to happen. He opened the doors for those that did not vote for him and let them know that he will be their President as well.
Everyone left the plaza in a spirit of positive well being that made everyone, Anglo, African-American, Latino, young, or senior have hope in a country that we had lost hope in. It made us all proud of something I had not felt in a long time, we were all proud to be American.