It’s been well documented that President Barack Obama is a Chicago White Sox fan, has it not? He got his sea legs doing community organizing on the city’s south side, rose to political prominence in the Illinois state Senate, has thrown out his share of ceremonial first pitches at the new Comiskey Park, and even wore a Sox hat when he threw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game! That may have seemed cold blooded, but as a die hard fan, I respect the loyalty.
Given all of this, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a video clip from the telecast of the Washington Nationals 2010 home opener (the same game he threw out the first pitch in a White Sox hat), in which he admits that he grew up an Oakland A’s fan. This originally struck me as odd given that he was raised in Hawaii, but it’s actually quite common for Hawaiians to root for west coast sports teams. Remember that Hawaii has no pro sports franchises of its own and the Pacific coast is it’s nearest neighbor.
A poll taken by Sports Illustrated reported that Hawaiians’ favorite sports teams are from California, Washington, and Colorado, with the exception of the Yankees and Braves. I believe the reasons for these two anomalies are as follows: The Atlanta Braves are the only team ever to have a nation-wide television audience because their owner, Ted Turner, also owned cable television station TBS, which broadcasted Braves games nationwide from 1977 through 2007. Though the Yankees didn’t have such a sweet TV deal, they are perennial contenders and repeat champions, and everyone loves a winner. Let us not forget that the Yankees and Braves had some epic post-season battles in the late 90s and early 2000s that may have won them both some fans as well. These two teams aside however, the chart below indicates that Hawaiians tend to root for west coast franchisess, the closest they can get to a home team.
Despite this revealing information, you may notice that the A’s didn’t make the Sports Illustrated poll results. Why then did President Obama take a liking to the Oakland Athletics? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that young Barry got into baseball upon his return from Jakarta, Indonesia where he lived from the ages of six to ten. He moved back to Honolulu in 1971, the year before the Swingin’ A’s began their winning streak of three straight world championships. Don’t forget, Americans love a winner.