Who's In First League Management

The Top of the Standings

Monday, February 16, 2009

President’s Day Edition: What Can you Gain From Playing Rec Sports?

How about a job?
In Washington D.C.?
Working for the President of the United States?

Imagine that you love playing basketball, and are fairly good at it. After school as a child, you go to your mom’s work and play pick up games with other children in the neighborhood. You go to college and are good enough to play on the varsity team. Your senior year your teammates name you co-captain and in the highest profile game of your collegiate career you score 20 points against a nationally ranked team.

You end up playing professionally in Australia for a couple of years, but are not a standout Down Under.

When your basketball career is over you return to your home town and get a “real job,” but your passion for the game doesn’t wane.

Because of your love, you continue to play pick-up games with some of the guys you have met through your job. These games aren’t scheduled regularly, but when they are played, there are more than a few players whose names grace the pages of the newspapers.

Some run major corporations, some are successful in the non-profit world, some have household names like Michael Jordan, and some have strange names like Barack Obama.

In case you are unaware, I am describing what may have contributed to Arne Duncan being appointed Secretary of Education by President Obama.

Duncan has always been a big fan of basketball. Growing up, Duncan would accompany his mother to her children’s center that catered to African-American youth on the South side of Chicago. He would play pick-up games with the other kids and got good enough to make the basketball team when he enrolled at Harvard.

After graduating magna cum laude, Duncan spent 4 years playing professionally before returning to Chicago to pursue a career in education.

Because of his high profile jobs, he ultimately met many of Chicago’s most famous people and started playing hoops with them whenever there was free time amongst all the busy schedules.

One of the guys he regularly played against was President Obama, then a state senator from Illinois. As Obama rose in the political spectrum, Duncan rose in the world of education, and in 2001 he was appointed CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

But even as their schedules got busier and busier, Obama, Duncan and several others still found time to get in a few games of roundball each year.
Playing basketball became an Election Day tradition for Obama, Duncan and the others. Every time Obama was up for office, the group would vote and then convene at a local gym to get their minds off the day’s goings-ons.

This continued even through Obama’s recent election in November, when Duncan joined other players to help Obama sweat out some nerves.

After the election results came in and Obama had the tough choice of selecting a cabinet, his mind didn’t stray far from the hardwood; and on January 20, 2009, once Obama was sworn into office, his good friend on and off the court, assumed the position of Secretary of Education.

Now it is not everyone who knows people of such power, or who desire to be in a life of politics, but there is a lesson we can all learn from Duncan’s story: there are more than just health benefits to participating in rec sports. In some cases you can meet someone who will help you attain something you might not have been able to attain otherwise. Likewise, there may be someone you play with or against that you might be able to help down the road.

So next time you throw on your jersey or lace up your shoes, think about Arne Duncan and the possibilities the position he is in because of rec sports.

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

No comments: