Washington D.C, – In a surprising move, President Obama has named Cross-Country Skiing the new American National Pastime, replacing baseball, which has held the spot for three-quarters of a century.
“We are totally blown away,” said Bjorn McEvoy, the director of the organization US Skiing As A National Pastime or USSANP. “We knew that we would prevail eventually, but were preparing for the long haul. We really didn’t think we would see this before Mongolia won the men’s 4x10km relay.”
Obama, who just yesterday, cracked down on US automakers, took a similar tone with the American sporting establishment. Pointing to the steroid scandal, exorbitant salaries, and the detrimental health effects of ballpark hot dogs, Obama called out baseball in a passionate speech.
“I will not sit idly by and watch the fabric of our great nation be torn asunder by the very game that the American people have placed their faith in for so many years. It is time for a change. A time for something new. A time for a sport that embodies the great ideals that our forefathers set down in the Constitution. Cross-Country Skiing is that sport!”
Obama went on to describe seeing Bill Koch sand skiing on the beaches of Hawaii, a sight that piques his interest, and later led to a little known passion for skiing.
“It has not been an activity that I have had the opportunity to participate in often,” the President said. “But whenever I can, I hit the trails. I have an old pair of Peltonens, the must be 25 years old, but still work great. That is the thing about a nice pair of classic skis – they are timeless.” Obama is intrigued by the new Fischer Hole Ski, telling the gathered press, “this is an excellent example of American ingenuity, even if it is Austrian, and this is exactly what we need to help us out of these very difficult times. I don’t skate much, but I have been doing more, and am looking forward to trying this ski. They say the swing weight is better – if I can get a pair to try I ‘ll take them out with Scalia and let him be the judge of that.”
USSANP knew that Obama was sympathetic to the cause, but didn’t think he would expend political capital on the issue given the other challenges facing the nation. “But we’ll take it” exclaimed an ecstatic McEvoy, who noted that USSANP has spent in excess of $6 million over the past 5 years on lobbying alone. “Bush just wouldn’t give us the time of day on this one. I think his time as the owner of the Texas Rangers really clouded his good judgment.”
This is obviously a huge blow to baseball, but one many analysts saw coming. Cross-Country Analyst for MSNBC, Jill Santos, said the writing has been on the wall for some time. “I have been saying for the last year that skiing was in position to really step up big. The intangibles are all there. It is a sport that the American public is truly passionate about. Think about it, in mid-January, can you turn on the television and find a baseball game on a dozen different channels? No, of course not. And while you won’t find any ski races either, if you worked hard enough, you might be able to find a live stream on the Estonian Television website. To me that says it all. This change is long overdue. I think President Obama is well on his way to cementing his legacy as one of the truly great Presidents in American history.”
A spokesman for Major League Baseball expressed disappointment with the President’s decision, but also seemed resigned. “With the whole A-Rod issue, and steroids in general, we were on thin ice. And when Kikkan won the silver at Worlds, we knew we were in real trouble. Obama doesn’t hide the fact that he is a huge fan. But we won’t give up. If the White Sox have a good season, I think we may be able to sway the President back our way.”
What does this mean for the sport in real terms? Well the first order of business is to officially modify the classic aphorism “As American as apple pie and baseball” to “As American as gjetost and cross-country skiing.” And while details of the plan are still vague, Obama has proposed a cross-country skiing stimulus bill, that will inject much needed cash in to the sport, and will contain protocols to deal with toxic assets – read the catski and racing suits with team names on the butt.
Obama hopes to join the thriving thriving Washington All American Nordic Alliance (WAANA), and looks forward to the weekly Wednesday night club races next winter. “My goal for next season is to crack the top 20,” said the President. “And of course to win the World Cup White House office pool. I had Northug going all the way this year. I admit it, I made a mistake, but not one I plan on repeating. An Olympic year is always challenging for picking World Cup winners, but I have learned a lot over the last months, and feel confident in my abilities.”
The President refused to share any additional information on next year’s World Cup, pointing out that such matters are classified as a matter of national security.
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio personality pointed to Obama’s decision to unseat baseball as the National Pastime as “just one more piece of evidence that this President is driving the country on a crash course with socialism.” Limbaugh was not shy about saying that he wouldn’t hesitate to throw an elbow or tromp on the President’s pole in next year’s Birkie. “With my time this year, I should be in wave nine next season. I worked hard for that. That is the American Way – to pull yourself up by your own klister coated fingers. I’m not going to let some liberal make it through the double pole zone ahead of me.”
Obama was nonplussed, saying that he recognizes that change can be painful, but in the long run this will benefit all of us. “Basketball was also a possibility, but what really did for me was the lycra. I’m really hoping to get one of those sharp new red US suits to race in next year. ”
Following the precedent set during the campaign, the Obama administration has setup a special website to provide information on the transition, and solicit input from the American people. You can visit the website at http://www.cross-country-for-change.com.