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Sports Business

Athletes back presidential hopefuls

May 6, 2008
Today’s Indiana primary elections, the first one in recent memory that has meant much to a presidential race, has brought together some strange bedfellows. While Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher spent yesterday campaigning for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, former Indiana University basketball star Calbert Cheaney hit the talk radio circuit stumping for Clinton’s opponent, Barack OBama.

Fisher said Clinton is a “doer” adding she “will be a president who steers our country in the right direction and puts our economy back on track.”

Fisher, 27, hits the track today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway trying to put her open-wheel racing career back on track. She launched her own team two months ago and is attempting to qualify for her first race this year—the Indianapolis 500—later this month.

Clinton made a surprise visit at the Speedway today shortly before 11:30 a.m., talking to throngs of people who gathered around her at Fisher's Gasoline Alley garage. Numerous local and national media outlets swarmed the scene within minutes, giving not only Clinton, but Fisher and her sponsors some much needed exposure. One IMS official said Clinton's visit took them by surprise.

Meanwhile, Cheaney, 36, two years removed from a 13-year NBA career, said he supports OBama due to the Illinois senator’s commitment to youth.

“High school and college students have been inspired by Barack’s message and the possibility that Americans can come together around a leader whose mission is to bring them together,” Cheaney said.

Cheaney might also have been campaigning for a job—but not in politics. Yesterday, he told local sports talk station WXLW-AM 950 that he was currently coaching his son’s flag football team, but was interested in coaching basketball—at a high level.

Cheaney said he is a big supporter of new IU coach Tom Crean, and while he did have a call into him, he didn’t disclose if it was about being an assistant on the Hoosiers’ staff. Crean has hired two assistants, and university officials said the new coach will hire a third and final assistant “soon.” Crean has  been mum on who he might hire, but sources inside the school said he is looking very closely at several candidates with IU ties.

“I definitely want to get back in the game,” Cheaney told WXLW. “It’s just a matter of finding the right opportunity.”
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