Saturday, December 4, 2010


A twelve-stitch cut on the presidential lower lip will heal quickly. But I feel an obligation to inform my vast readership of the hazards of midde-aged men playing pickup basketball, especially when one of those men happens to be the Leader of the Free World. If he is prudent, our president will repeal Obamaball.

The problem does not lie in the game of basketball itself, which carries the risk of bumps, twists, and bruises but is otherwise quite safe. What gives Obamaball its danger is the presence of men whose reflexes have slowed but whose desire to shine on the court remains as strong as ever. No referees are present to discourage overaggressiveneness, limit fouls, and restrain tempers. Obamaball is the one presidential policy that suffers from a lack of regulatory intervention.

In pickup basketball, too, the absence of permanent teams, leagues, and championships makes the standard of success a very personal one: If on any given day you can beat your guy to the basket, you have triumphed and you can exult all the way to the showers. If that guy happens to be the President of the United States, well, finish the sentence. I do not charge the player who busted Obama's lip with doing so willfully. I do say that he was not in his right mind. No one in his right mind would do anything remotely likely to bust the lip of an American president. But a middle aged man playing pickup basketball is not in his right mind. He is in a mental zone where normal considerations of prudence have long since been expelled.

Injuries in such an environment, including serious ones, are not uncommon, to the dismay of the friends and loved ones of the injured. A former colleague of mine badly gashed his tongue at our noontime contest. Another player, a regular from off-site, was notorious for throwing extraordinarily fierce passes at the most unexpected moments. More than once I narrowly escaped a broken nose. A neighborhood friend, meanwhile, did break his nose at a local parish gym. My wife happened to see him at the hospital with his nose shifted laterally in a most unpleasant manner. Two other competitors bumped head to brow, producing cuts and blood. That encounter was apparently similar to the one that busted Obama's lip. The offensive player claimed a space being occupied by the defender.

Any sensible American man will carefully weigh the risks of pickup basketball to himself and his family. In most cases, he will give up the habit, or make himself absolutely certain of the unnaturally mild intentions of every single player who joins him on the court. As for the President, it is a fair bet that if he continues his hooping ways, he will get hurt again.

Obamaball has gone on long enough to prove to the world that Barry the Bomber has got game. Time to end it, Mr. President, or join a league.


  1. Brother our age...5 words

    stay out of the of me...

  2. Sounds like a good idea, Peter - but a sacrifice!