For Some, Obama's Inauguration Calls for Timeout

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 16, 2009

Georgetown Coach John Thompson III plans to attend President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony Tuesday, even if it means walking the 3 1/2 miles back to campus amid closed city streets and the gridlock sure to surround them.

Plus, Thompson is considering shifting practice from its usual 4 p.m. start time to the early evening to ensure that the Hoyas have an opportunity to watch the historic event, if they choose to do so.

"Whenever you have a change of presidents, it's a special time," Thompson said during a conference call with Big East coaches yesterday. "But this, as we start to welcome our 44th president, is a very special time here -- for me personally and for a lot of people."

And while Georgetown is the sole Big East school in the nation's capital, Thompson isn't the only coach who's weighing how to incorporate Tuesday's inauguration into the highly structured lives of his student-athletes.

Seton Hall Coach Bobby Gonzalez says he doesn't consider himself politically hard-wired, but says he started thinking about the significance of Tuesday's ceremony for his team while listening to former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. discuss it on his radio program.

"It got me thinking about our players and maybe having them be a little conscious of it, if they're not already," Gonzalez said. "We certainly are going to talk about it. Will we watch as a team or not? I'm not sure."

The swearing-in ceremony will take place Tuesday by noon, as directed by the Constitution, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. It will be followed by the inaugural address and parade, which will make its way up Pennsylvania Avenue NW from the Capitol to the White House.

A contingent of George Washington basketball players plans to be present for much of it, according to sophomore guard Travis King.

King, who is from New Haven, Conn., is organizing the outing.

"This is history, and we definitely want to be a part of it," King said. "I want to see everything. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

Howard senior guard Eugene Myatt feels the same. Though the Bison players haven't decided whether to watch or attend as a group, Myatt said he plans to be present, having cast his first vote in a presidential election for Obama.

Obama's election "shows how our country has grown for the better," Myatt said. "I feel as though this is a great time in history."

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