CLEVELAND - I had the opportunity today to discuss Cleveland sports with Barack Obama. I completely understand that we are in the middle of a presidential campaign, but it was such an honor to have the President of the United States take six minutes of his time to talk Cleveland Sports.
In fact Obama started the interview by mentioning that he is a professional Ohio State cheerleader because of all the visits he has made to Columbus during this campaign.
The next topic we discuss is the President's favorite sport, basketball starting with the Cavaliers especially head coach Byron Scott and reigning rookie of the year Kyrie Irving.
"Byron is a fine coach and does a great job," Obama said. "Kyrie's not just met expectations, he's exceeded them. He showed what he could do last year and despite occasional injuries, he's just a solid player. He just doesn't make many rookie mistakes, has a shoot, good off the dribble, knows how to find the open man, so it's a lot of talent. You guys are still a couple of pieces away from filling the puzzle but it'll be fun to watch the team."
In keeping with the basketball theme, we discuss the loss of LeBron James two seasons ago. I had to tell him how upset I was because he was rooting for LeBron to go to the Chicago Bulls. I referred it is taking a Fortune 500 coming right out of Cleveland. The President wanted to clear the air about his desires to have LeBron join the Bulls.
"What I said was, if LeBron was going to move, obviously the Bulls would love to have him but the fact is that Cleveland is going to bounce back."
President Obama was really impressed with the most recent sports addition here in town, the Indians hiring Terry Francona as their new manager.
"I think Francona's gonna do a great job."
Next topic we discuss is your 0-5 Cleveland Browns and the impending sale to new owner Jimmy Haslam for one billion dollars. I had to ask whether the price is getting to high for the average sports fan.
"I gotta tell you, they can't lose sight of who is paying all those big salaries and who's helping those owners make those profits and I think most fans don't begrudge teams doing well. It is important though to make sure that tickets for example stay affordable and I do get concerned when I look at some of the major league teams across sports that you are starting to price out a lot of families. Hopefully people will remember why we play the game."
We then get into the scrutiny with the NCAA especially in regards to what had taken place down at Ohio State with "Tattoogate" and at Penn State with the Jerry Sandusky case.
"They made a smart move by moving to a playoff system in college football," Obama said. "You do want to make sure that there is some consistency in terms of how they are applying the rules. I think that having more clarity about the student athlete and how they are operating will always be helpful. In the end of the day I think what college sports has to be about is making sure that young men and women are excelling but also that their getting a good education."
The best thing to hear the President say was about the city of Cleveland as a sports town in general.
"The nice thing about Cleveland is you guys are die heart sports town no matter what."
This coming from a guy who's not scared to wear his Chicago White Sox jacket. This interview will certainly rank high on my list of things I have been honored to do working in this industry.
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