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Monday, December 08, 2008

On basketball, Obama and EU employment rules


Saturday's Times had a rather interesting feature on US President elect Barack Obama and specifically his passion for basketball. The article offers a contrast to Britian's political leaders, and rightly notes that "it is hard to imagine Gordon Brown or David Cameron on the sports pitch, even in their youth." Attention is also drawn to the fact that Obama actually manages to "do a high-five on the court and not look as though he was a middle-aged geek trying to be cool." Again, a contrast is drawn to certain British politicans.

Slightly more relevant to the general theme of this blog, the article notes that American National Baskeball Association, the NBA, is hoping that Obama's victory will give the league a world-wide boost, including in the UK (where basketball enjoys very limited popularity - to put it mildly). The NBA hopes to set up a European division with teams in London, Barcelona and Berlin. But, the NBA's yearly 'draft' of young players - a set scheme under which the clubs recruit their players, usually from college teams - may violate the EU's employment laws. Although no further details are given in the article, this is said to represent an obstacle to the plans of establishing an NBA franchise in Europe.

So, do we here see a future trade row with basketball-loving Obama accusing the EU of enacting non-tariff barriers to prevent American companies (the NBA) to invest in Europe? Hardly. But, as ever, EU regulations work in mysterious ways.

On a seperate note, Obama actually has some decent skills. Open Europe's scouting report shows that he has a good left-hand jump-shot and a nice touch around the basket. However, he seems slightly one-handed (the equivalent of a footballer being one-footed, for those of you not familiar with basketball jargon). Neither does his 'hops' (jumping ability) seem to be what it once was. Still not bad for a 47 year old, also considering that he can 'bench' 200 lbs. In any case, he far outscores most European leaders on athleticism. Sarkozy's jogging rounds are just not quite the same, are they..?

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