“And sometimes when I have a real thick briefing I have to read through, I’ll have the game on with the sound off.”
1. Updated — 1:32 p.m. ET:
President Barack Obama on Friday appeared on ESPN Radio show “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” where he discussed his views on social media, the political and personal responsibilities of athletes, and the state of Chicago sports.
Immediately, Obama found an opportunity to promote healthcare.gov, which he says is now fully recovered from the problems that plagued its rollout. He also closed the program with a joke about “weekend warriors” on the basketball court, and said that at his age he needs to make sure to have great health care.
During the interview he said he supports LeBron James and Magic Johnson using their platforms to make statements about political causes they feel are important, referencing Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe as a precedent for athletes speaking out. He called it important for athletes to embrace that they are “citizens as well as entertainers.”
Obama then transitioned to talking about the responsibility players have to their fans and to their employers with regard to personal conduct, but said we must examine how they are treated by the leagues when they do make those mistakes. He said he believes it’s important to have plans in place for discipline ahead of time, then got to it and said the NFL was “behind the curve” with the Ray Rice Situation. “You don’t want to be winging it.”
The President said that to be effective in accessing and handling situations of player conduct the leagues must make a conscious effort to address the systematic issues that remain due to the “old boys’ club” mentality. The President made it clear that businesses, in sports and otherwise, must be sure to hire and promote women and “folks of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds because you make better decisions when you have different viewpoints.”
Obama discussed his disappointment with the 5–8 Chicago Bears, but said the Bulls are looking pretty good. He says he “can’t sit down and watch an entire game,” but makes exceptions for Championships. He says Sportscenter gives him a “pretty good idea of what’s going on,” and that he watches ESPN most mornings because he can’t deal with any more political chatter than he already has to hear.
Obama said that sports fans should remember that we are “all on the same team, and that’s the American team.”