We now know who will be front and center at the next Special Olympics ...
... It was all going perfectly, in fact, until Leno eased the conversation away from the economy and onto sports, asking Obama if he enjoyed bowling. The president said he found time to practise, but had only managed a score of 129. "That's very good," Leno interjected mockingly, at which point Obama became sufficiently amused, it seemed, to forget, for one cringe-inducing second, that he was on television.
"It's like the Special Olympics, or something," he replied, in what seemed meant as a self-deprecating joke – and from the expressions that flickered across both men's faces it was clear they both knew Obama had committed arguably the first rhetorical gaffe of his young presidency...
It's hard to be perfect, but we shouldn't let our sympathy for Obama's burdens detract from this golden opportunity. The cruel rules of politics require a make-up, maybe even someone in the cabinet tasked to pay attention to sports for special needs adults, children, and students of all ages.
In most schools and communities, however, there's mostly ... bowling.
A lot of people love bowling, but not everyone. Not me, for example -- though smoking bans have made alleys tolerable. It isn't, however, a great contributor to lifelong fitness and skills.
We need to raise the bar on special needs sports. I've been involved with special hockey for four years now, and even though it seems impossible it has been working. (One current challenge is that our early 5 foot non-skaters are now over 6 feet tall and skate about as fast as me, so the skill range is getting a bit wide.)
Special Olympics deserves support, and, thanks to President Obama's gaffe, that's more likely now. We should ask the same of schools.