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Obama Continues Quest to Intrude on Every Major Sporting Event

11:50 AM, Apr 5, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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If only it had been a campaign promise to show up during every single important sporting event in the country during his first year in office, Obama would have quite an accomplishment under his belt.

At halftime of the Michigan State/Butler game Saturday, Obama played hoops with CBS basketball analyst Clark Kellogg and Harry Smith. They played P-O-T-U-S instead of H-O-R-S-E. How cute!

As they played, Kellogg asked Mr. Obama a couple questions about the president's well-known love of the game of basketball and his take on the NCAA tournament so far.

"This has been probably one of the most balanced tournaments that we've seen," Mr. Obama said, playing the role of sports analyst like he did in January when he joined Kellogg during a telecast of a Duke-Georgetown game. "Terrific excitement... when you see, like a Northern Iowa, pull off a game like they did against Kansas... that makes everybody invested in the tournament. And that's what makes March Madness terrific."

He's also been practicing for his first ceremonial pitch at the Nationals' home opener today:

Spokesman Robert Gibbs says Obama has hurling pitches at personal assistant Reggie Love and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, as he prepared with workouts in the White House Rose garden. Obama threw out the first pitch at last year's All-Star game in St. Louis, wearing a White Sox jacket, a nod to his hometown Chicago team. Gibbs wouldn't comment on Obama's choice for a jacket to wear at Monday afternoon's game.

Obama also threw out the first pitch at the All-Star game last year and was interviewed by Katie Couric live before the Super Bowl. He showed up at a Duke-Georgetown game I was lucky enough to attend.

My own political predilections aside, the danger of overexposure for our omnipresent president is real, and it's not new. Everyone likes the idea of sports as escapism and release from life's other stresses, and certainly the president needs that release as much as anyone. But it's one thing for a politician to demonstrate his regular guy-ism by filling out a bracket and another to occupy full segments of every major sportscast of the year. There's a point when Obama's sports enthusiasm starts interfering with other people's enjoyment.

Update: I should have noted that while some of Obama's sports outings are unprecedented, at least the Opening Day pitch for the Nationals is a tradition, so he can be given some slack on today's appearance. It's the frequency of his sports-related appearances added to the traditional Opening Day pitch that lead to presidential sports-nut fatigue. He didn't give himself much slack on his pitch, however, which was high and outside. He called it "disappointing" and "heart-breaking," and blamed it on the ball slipping out of his hand.

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