Monday, October 26, 2009

The president's sporty White House

President Obama got some flack last year for only doing a men's bracket during the NCAA tournament. (Ok mostly it was just me giving him a hard time.)
This time he is getting grief for an all-male congressional basketball game. I heard about this but didn't pay much attention to it. The man already disappointed me with the bracket thing and the talking out of two sides of his mouth as he extolled the presence of female athletes on ESPN. So am I surprised that the game was all guys? Nope. 'Cause I am pretty sure that there were not that many women jumping to get into that game. Even if they are basketball players, it's pretty much a no-win situation for them. What if they are better than all the other congresspeople? What if they are worse? What if they tear an ACL during the game? It's all very fraught.
But I thought this NYT article about the boys' club in the White House, much of which revolves around sports, was pretty interesting.
The White House allegedly has a 50/50 split in terms of male and female employees and some of those women are annoyed by all the sports stuff, but one of them admitted to not really liking sports and acknowledged that this could be alienating. In fighting for access to golf courses and equity in things like tee times, many women have claimed that such inequitable practices place them at a disadvantage in the business world. Many women have taken up golf solely for the business contacts and advantages. But it looks like women in the White House are not about to embrace sports just because the president likes them. They certainly should not have to, but it does seem that the president's best buds are the guys he plays sports with. And there is some concern that although there are certainly women in positions of power in his administration, it is the guys that he pays most attention to--on and off the basketball court.
And speaking of golf, the NYT reports that he has played over 20 times since being in office. There is no record of him ever playing with a woman, though he was scheduled to play with domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes not too long ago. That's a lot of pressure for Barnes. No wonder the women in the White House have stayed away from Obama's sport outings.

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