By Mike Sherman
We’re all going to be seeing a lot more of Bart Conner in the coming weeks, and that’s a good thing.
We’re among the media outlets who are tapping into Bart’s gymnastics expertise, charm and magnetic personality during the Beijing Olympics. He stopped by the office the other day to film a video with Jenni Carlson, and discuss the video blogs he’ll be posting on NewsOK throughout the Games.
Later that night, I was watching the Channel 4 10 p.m. newscast and saw Bart flipping through the KFOR newsroom. It was part of a KFOR Olympics coverage promo — a straight knockoff of ESPN’s killer SportsCenter campaign, but everybody is doing ESPN knockoffs these days.
And everyone either is or wants to be associated with Bart Conner.
A couple months ago I spoke at a sports business conference at Oklahoma City University, and had the unfortunate task of following Bart. I love talking about the news and information business, but I’m not sure the “business” side of it makes very good listening. Bart’s speech was like a lunch conversation with an old friend. He entertained everyone with stories about his thriving gymnastics academy in Norman, his work as a gymnastics commentator and his life as the husband of the world’s most famous former Olympian not named Muhammad Ali.
The next time you’re around Bart, ask him to tell the story about the time he and his wife were making one of their many globe trotting appearances and he saw Bono walking toward him with a pen and a piece of paper. So there’s Bart, thinking “the lead singer of U2 wants my autograph” until Bono speaks: “Hey, could you get Nadia to sign this?”
Nadia Comaneci, of course, is Bart’s wife. Winner of five Olympic gold medals. The first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympics event. That Nadia.
And because of Bart, she lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
Bart is one of our state’s great human assets. It’s going to be interesting living the Beijing Olympics vicariously through him. And here’s what would be more interesting: Bart Connor for governor in 2010, how about sooner if Brad Henry goes to Washington as Barack Obama’s secretary of agriculture.