Obviously, there are so many factors that have been applied, incrementally, over a long time to bring us to a place where an African-American can be elected president. But I cannot help believing that the ubiquity and esteem of the black man in sport has played a significant part in this transformation of the body politic's thinking.
You see, the way the black athlete has evolved in the public mind has made him something of a precursor for African-Americans in other visible fields. Originally, in fact, blacks in sport were confined strictly to the arena. Many of the biggest stars --
But, my -- as well we know -- how that changed.
By the 1990s,
From a cultural point of view, this sea change in attitude signalled that race did not constitute that much of a perceptual difference in public figures . . . which, ultimately, of course, leads us from the playing field to entertainment to politics to, at last, the presidential race and
In that vein, I particularly believe that the recent ascendancy of black movie stars -- notably
It's also true that just as the black superstar was for so long denied the chance to be a personality, so was the smart black player denied the opportunity to lead. Now, we don't get the chance to see most decision-makers in action. Neither boardrooms nor smoke-filled rooms are live on network TV. A-ha, but we can watch coaches and managers pull the strings and settle strategy on the sidelines. Surely it was influential to be able to see black men dispensing judgment in those visible positions and to see that black coaches were, as a group, just as smart and just as dumb as white coaches. Vivid equality.
Look, maybe Obama would be the Democratic nominee if there had never been a
As a closing fillip, it's always said that Obama is different from the African-American politicians who proceeded him. I agree.
He reminds me more of