ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: Obama as Sports Fan is ‘Genuine’

By Lindsey Ellerson

Dec 17, 2009 10:47am

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: We’ve seen sports emerge as a major theme in President Obama’s White House — whether it’s weekend golf outings, courtside seats at basketball games, or public-service announcements touting physical fitness for kids. Is it the real deal? We asked one guy who would know — Michael Wilbon, a co-host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” and a sports columnist for The Washington Post, in an interview that will air today at noon ET on ABC’s “Top Line.”

“Well, I know it is genuine — absolutely — and it’s thorough. It’s not just about the sports that are obvious, that people think of all the time,” Wilbon told us. Obama does more than fill out college basketball brackets — he checks in with experts (including Wilbon) to see how they’re doing along the way. “March Madness … believe me, he has brackets and it’s competitive, because I know I’ve gotten a phone call, ‘How’s your bracket?’ ” Wilbon said. “But this goes back — this was all his life. I mean, if politics is one conversation of his life, then sports is the other, and sports probably, probably if I would hazard guess, a lot longer. And it’s everything — it’s professional basketball, it’s college basketball, it’s pro and college football to some extent. I don’t know if they’re all equal, but it’s very genuine.” We also got Wilbon’s take on whether Congress should play a role in replacing the Bowl Championship Series with a playoff system (a favored cause of Obama’s), plus which current sports stars he sees entering politics some day, a la former NBA standout Kevin Johnson (now the mayor of Sacramento), Hall of Fame pitcher Sen. Jim Bunning, and former Sen. Bill Bradley, a Hall of Fame basketball player. Since co-host and Wilbon’s fellow Northwestern alum David Chalian couldn’t resist, we got some handicapping on the Wildcats’ Outback Bowl matchup against Auburn. And, since I couldn’t resist, we make Wilbon defend his school’s athletic legacy against a certain school in New Jersey that dominated college football in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. (Yes, the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s.) Watch the show live HERE at noon ET. The show posts later in the afternoon at ABCNews.com/politics, at this blog, or as a free iTunes podcast.

As fans of “PTI” know, Wilbon doesn’t use Twitter. But we do HERE.

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