Forget Bowling. How About Some Hoops?
It became clear this week in Pennsylvania that Senator Barack Obama is not much of a bowler (cable television has run footage of his gutter balls all week). But basketball — ah, that’s another thing, or so says Mr. Obama. His latest campaign gimmick is meant to show off those hoops skills in a match-off with teenage supporters, while also engaging Indiana voters, who hold their primary early next month.
Here’s the plan: high school students who will turn 18 before the November election are being urged to register 20 friends or classmates to vote. From those who reach that goal, one will be chosen and allowed to pick two friends to play on their home court against Mr. Obama when he makes a campaign swing through the Hoosier state, a hotbed of hoops, later this month.
The challenge, called “3 on 3 Basketball Challenge for Change,” was announced Friday by Calbert Cheaney, an Obama supporter and Evansville native who also happens to be the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer, a three-time All-American and a former NCAA player of the year. As of Tuesday, nearly 50 Indiana high schools had already qualified for the challenge, according to Kevin Griffis, communications director for the Obama campaign in Indiana.
“We’re thinking standard rules, with the first to 11″ points winning the competition, Mr. Griffis said. Mr. Obama’s teammates will be an Indiana college student who has registered 30 young voters and a player to be named later. Asked who that might be, given Indiana’s extraordinarily rich history of producing hoops stars, Mr. Griffis replied that “we haven’t ruled anyone out.”
The news release announcing the Indiana challenge was accompanied by a YouTube video showing Mr. Obama walking into a gym in South Carolina wearing street clothes and, with reporters looking on and no chance to warm up, calmly sinking a three-point shot. Afterwards, he pretended to woof a bit on those who thought his abilities may have eroded since his high school days, when he wore No. 23, same as Michael Jordan did a decade later.
“That’s how you perform under pressure,” said Mr. Obama, boastfully. ” I’ve got skills.”