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President Barack Obama Talks Cleveland Sports On 92.3 The Fan

By Matt Loede - 92.3 The Fan
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President Barack Obama (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

President Barack Obama (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Anytime you can get the President of the United States on your station, it’s a big deal. Anytime you get him on an all-sports station, it’s a huge deal.

Thursday on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, President Barack Obama had a chat with Andy Baskin of “Cleveland’s Talking Heads” and instead of the usual political chat, the conversation turned into one about sports, and more specifically – sports in Cleveland.

Obama was in Columbus earlier this weeks making another campaign stop as he gets ready to go head to head with Mitt Romney for another four years in office. The President was asked about doing the famous O-H-I-O sign while in Columbus at Ohio State, and says that it’s something he’s grown to enjoy.

“They don’t have to make me do it, I do it on my own,” Obama said. “I’ve been (in Columbus) so much I’m a professional Ohio State cheerleader.”

RELATED AUDIO: President Barack Obama Talks Cleveland Sports On 92.3 The Fan

If there’s one sport that Obama loves, it’s basketball. The President was well versed about the Cleveland Cavaliers, and knows Cavs coach Byron Scott personally, and also followed NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving closely last season.

“Byron is a fine coach, and does a great job, Kyrie not just met expectations, he exceeded them,” Obama said. “He showed what he could do last year, and despite occasional injuries, he’s just a solid player that doesn’t make a lot of rookie mistakes, has a shot, good off the dribble, knows how to find the open man, it’s a lot of talent at the point guard position, (the Cavs) just need to round it out.”

Obama says for now, it’s a matter of time before the Cavs reach the next level, and with Scott leading the way, the President says they will get there.

“He’s a fine coach and he’s really good with young players, there’s no doubt that (the Cavs) are a couple of pieces away from filling out the puzzle, but it will be fun to watch the team,” Obama said.

One sports subject the President has spoken about is former Cavalier LeBron James, who shunned the Cavs two years ago to go to Miami to play for the Heat. Obama was asked about comments he made wishing James would join the President’s favorite basketball team – the Chicago Bulls.

“What I said was ‘if LeBron was to move, the Bulls would love to have him,'” Obama laughed. “Cleveland is going to bounce back, you guys have a new manager for the Indians, I think (Terry) Francona is going to do a great job, you have one of the great young point guards in the league, the nice thing about Cleveland is you guys are a die-hard sports town no matter what.”

The President also is a big baseball fan, and has been seen numerous times in public wearing his Chicago White Sox jacket. Obama said that he was disappointed about the Sox collapse which allowed the Detroit Tigers to sneak in and win the AL Central in the final week of the season.

“You can’t trust someone who waivers in who they root for, the White Sox broke my heart going down the stretch, but they were kind of overachieving by the middle of the season,” Obama said. “I didn’t think they would lose 10 of the last 12.”

The Browns will have a new owner next week in Jimmy Haslem III, and the President was asked about that, as well as the direction of prices not only for franchises, but for families that enjoy attending those events.

“They can’t lose sight of who is paying all those big salaries, who is helping those owners make those big profits,” Obama said. “I think that most fans don’t begrudge teams doing well, it is important though that tickets stay affordable, I do get concerned about Major League teams across sports that are pricing out families.”

This year college sports has taken a major turn with a new four-team playoff system for college football. Obama says it was a move that was necessary for college football to have a more clear-cut champion at the end of the year.

“They made a smart move by moving to a playoff system in college football,” Obama said. “Maybe after folks get used to it after a couple of years it ends up expanding to eight teams instead of four, I think that was a good move.”

Obama says that while college sports is exciting, you have to keep in perspective what the end of goal of college sports is, making sure the men and women that play the sports get their education.

There’s been more enforcing of rules as of late in college sports, and the President says that it’s a good thing for college sports to be accountable for their programs, as well as for the student athletes.

“You do want to make sure there is some consistency in applying the rules,” Obama said. “I think that having more clarity about the student athlete, how they are operating, how the teams operate and how the penalties are in place, will always be helpful.”

Obama says that while college sports is exciting, you have to keep in perspective what the end of goal of college sports is, making sure the men and women that play the sports get their education.

“At the end of the day, what college sports is supposed to be about is making sure that young men and women are excelling, but also that they are getting a good education,” Obama said. “I know one of the things that my Secretary of Education has emphasized is we have to keep track of how these major sports education programs are doing in terms of education rates.

“When you read some of these programs where the graduation rates are 8 percent or 10 percent, that’s a disservice to the young people who are making those schools a whole lot of money, and that’s something I would like to see the NCAA and all the schools that have sports programs focus on.”

Governor Romney has been offered the same opportunity to chat sports on 92.3 the Fan – stay tuned to hear if he accepts.

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