Long: Obama speech timing shows scheduling ineptitude


Photo Illustration: Kelsey Kremer

Two men watching television

Craig Long

Show of hands. How many people knew that there was an NFL game on Thursday? It has only been scheduled since April. For NFL fans, this is the first drop of blood in the shark tank. The last two Super Bowl Champions, the Packers and the Saints, play the opening game of the season at historic Lambeau Field (full disclosure: I am a Packers fan).

I know the president has a lot on his plate. In fact, he also had a little event planned Thursday: an address to a joint session of Congress. It directly conflicted with the football game, and as a result, the president moved his speech up a few hours. Usually joint sessions are only reserved for the most important issues; this address outlined the president’s new job-creating proposals. With a stagnant economy, this is obviously more important than a football game, and should have priority over one. However, President Barack Obama was correct to move his speech up.

Setting a date for this speech was an exercise of ineptitude. Originally, he had the address scheduled in direct conflict with a GOP debate. Whether this was a political ploy or not, we may never know. However, judging by how quickly he agreed to change the date and time, we can guess it was a mistake by his administration. However, by changing it, he directly conflicted the opening game of the NFL season.

So, after the embarrassment of scheduling the speech during a nationally televised event and having to move it, they didn’t bother to check the network schedules of the time they would be commandeering? It makes him and his entire administration, at least at this moment in time, seem disorganized and out of touch.

Perhaps it was a ploy to steal some viewers. After all, last year the NFL’s opening game did draw 22.5 million viewers. However, I don’t know about you, but for me, there is no worse first-world problem than when you are watching a game and it is interrupted. If the game suddenly cuts away, even for something as important as an address to a joint session of Congress, I (and many other viewers) become livid. And an angry audience is not a receptive audience, no matter what you are pitching to them.

And let’s not forget how important sports can be as an escape from real life. While I’m sure what President Obama had to say was undoubtedly important to the nation’s unemployed, I also know that seeing him issue a statement on unemployment did nothing for their short-term outlook, aside from reminding them of their current disposition.

For some of these people, looking forward to football may have been the only thing to get them through this last month. To have football ruined by unemployment, like so many other things have been, is something the president should have worked hard to avoid from the beginning.