PtG Comment 09.11.2010

George W. Bush’s Most Important 'Decision Point'

George W. Bush does not spend much time on sports politics in his autobiography. He should have. The book focuses on 14 important decisions in Bush's life (decision points) and it is said to include six key revelations. Among the important decisions ("the most consequential decisions") are the decision in 1986 to stop drinking, the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 and the measures to cure the financial crisis in 2008. The question is if he should have used more pages on his passion for baseball? I think so!

Sports fanatic Maybe he will mention that he is the first President who has played Little League baseball? Many – especially in Europe – see the 43rd President of the U.S. as a republican fanatic. Without taking an ideological stance to his presidential deeds, it is, at least, possible to call George W. Bush a sports fanatic - or rather a baseball fanatic. Had he just stuck to baseball, and not to the axis of evil or waterboarding, the world could have been different for many people – in the U.S., in Iraq and in Liverpool.Bush almost bankrupted Liverpool FC!Baseball has followed George W. Bush from the time he dreamed of becoming Governor of Texas, in his presidency and in his practise as ex-President. Bush was a part owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 until 1998. From 1989 to 1994 he was Managing General Partner of the club, but left the helm when he became Governor of Texas in 1994. Bush earned big money on the sale of his shares in the club in 1998. The sale brought him a profit of $14.9 million compared to his $606,000 investment in 1989.

This was money that came in handy in the presidential election two years later. Incidentally, he sold the shares to Tom Hicks, one of the two Americans who bought Liverpool FC in 2007, and who almost did something that Everton has never managed – make Liverpool go bankrupt. Hicks was also a major contributor to George W. Bush's two presidential election campaigns in 2000 and 2004, a so-called Bush-pioneer (as anyone who gave more than $100,000 to the campaign was called). With questionable use of a network analysis, we can therefore argue that it was George W. Bush who gave Liverpool a hell of a beating and not Liverpool’s adversaries in the Premier League.

Bush as a Yankee

When George W. Bush entered the White House, he brought 250 signed baseballs with him into the Oval Office. This was more balls than Bill Clinton was able to handle, and it is said that the number of baseballs outnumbered the number of books in the Oval Office at the time. When the planes crashed into the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, it was not books the new President needed, but political acumen.

This he showed on 30 October 2001 when he entered Yankee Stadium to throw the first pitch of the third World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks (which was incidentally the favourite team of John McCain, who lost the primary election to George W. Bush in 2000). Bush said before the match that by doing this, he was "helping to do what all Americans are doing now, which is keeping the country doing what it typically does at this time of year". Even lukewarm New Yorkers got faith in their new President after this.One of the fewWhen Bush threw the first ball in the World Series game he was the first incumbent president to do so since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. It had previously been done by Franklin Roosevelt (1932 and 1936), Calvin Coolidge (1924) and Woodrow Wilson (1915). Barack Obama has yet to throw the first ball in a World Series game. This year, George W. Bush threw the first ball of the fourth World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers. Photos from this game were sent around the world without reference to how much Bush means to baseball and how much baseball means to Bush. In Norway, the game was described as a normal baseball game, if at all mentioned. Pardon my countrymen’s ignorance! Bush in the IOC? George W. Bush is the only U.S. president who has mentioned the problem of doping in a State of the Union address. He did so in 2004, where he expressed concern about doping’s devastating effect on sports. Although Bush did not always support fair play in politics, he was very concerned about this in sport. While managing the Texas Rangers he was an intense opponent of wild cards in baseball (that is, to give teams that do not qualify for the World Series a second chance). This was against Bush’s idea of sports ethics. Bush cannot become President of the U.S. again, however, he maybe have a future as director of the international doping agency WADA or the IOC perhaps? Bush's most important decisionGeorge W. Bush is said to have had great difficulty choosing between the post as Governor of Texas in 1994 and the job as Commissioner of Major League Baseball (that is, the leader of the baseball league). When George W. Bush in the primary election in 2000 was asked what his biggest mistake was, he replied that it was when he, as manager of the Texas Rangers, signed the exchange agreement between Sammy Sosa and Harold Baines in 1989. Sammy Sosa became one of baseball's biggest stars, but not for Bush's Texas Rangers. I think the most important decision point in George W. Bush’s career was when he opted for not staying with baseball!

This article first appeared on Andreas Selliaas' blog 'Sportens Uutholdelige Letthet' on 8 November 2010. Follow Andreas' blog (in Norwegian) on