Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration Attracts Sports Personalities And Hope

L. J. MatthewsContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

The inauguration of Chicago's favorite son, Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, has drawn sports figures from all over the country to Washington D.C. Sprinkled among the crowds packing this city and the throngs attending the many inaugural events and celebrations are the familiar faces of professional athletics. We know them from the sports they play, from the internet, from the newspapers, from television and the rest of the media.

The weather is cold, but the attitude is as warm as it could be at any winter sporting event.  We hope our team wins the game.  On this Inauguration Day, we are all on the same American team.  Hope is in the air today.  Seemingly beset with problems from all angles, we want our country to win.

Tiger Woods, Don King, Muhammad Ali, Dikembe Mutombo and Dave Winfield are just a few of the sports world notables that have made it a point to be a part of this historic event--the installation of the first African-American as President of the United States of America.  Come closer.  Let me tell you a little secret: People in general and athletes in particular like to associate with winners.

Although sports figures are usually apolitical or keep their political views to themselves, it appears that for this celebratory event, the sense that something special is happening is attracting sports figures like a magnet.  Of course, sports is not politics and politics is not sports. Yet the two are inextricably linked.  And that linkage is subtly on display.

All over town, the chants of "Obama, Obama, Obama" and "Yes We Can" echo, sounding more like sports cheers rather than political rallying cries. Yet, this is not a sporting event nor is this a political event. This inauguration is unique and something far more important. 

Maybe this is a winning day for us as a country.  Maybe this is a chance to be part of living history. Maybe this is what the professional athletes and sports personalities and just plain regular folks sense, as schedules are arranged and miles are crossed and lives are changed in order to bring people to this capitol city.  Maybe you don't have to be a sports figure in order to witness, participate and appreciate what is going on.  Maybe this inaugural event is a way to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Maybe this is a time and chance for hope.