Our Athletic Presidents...They Might Surprise You
While Presidents Day originated as a way to commemorate George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays, it has evolved to the point that we now use it as a day to recognize all who served as the nation’s top-ranking executive.
Today we thought we’d have a little fun by looking at our leaders from a purely athletic standpoint. Of course, this aligns with the X-wear brand, an active lifestyle company that encourages our customers to skate, ski, surf, SUP, golf, run, bike, boat and simply get outside and enjoy life.
While we won’t find many (or any) presidents who skateboard, we will find those who were and are fierce competitors, understanding the importance that sports and fitness plays in our lives.
Barack H. Obama (44th President; 2008-2016)
Yes, the video above is fake, but Obama is well known for his love of all things basketball. Author Alexander Wolff wrote that Obama used basketball “more often and more effectively than any previous president had used any sport,” in his book “The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama.”
President Obama started playing basketball in his youth, continuing it through high school and well into his adult years. He used the sport as a tool during his first campaign in 2008 as a way to connect with voters. Once elected, he retrofitted the White House’s tennis court, turning it into a basketball court where he has balled with staffers, politicians and current and former NBA players.
He celebrated his 49th birthday by treating himself to a pickup basketball game with a list of players – Grant Hill, Carmelo Anthony, Bill Russell, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Derrick Rose – that would make any fan envious.
Though it has been reported that the President has given up the game for golf, he famously still fills out an NCAA tournament bracket every March. And he maintains a constant presence at NBA and college games throughout the year, proving his passion for the game has not waned.
Gerald Ford (38th President; 1974-1977)
SNL’s Chevy Chase portrayed Ford as a bumbling, clumsy President, but in all actuality he may have been the most athletic to ever spend time at the White House
As a center and linebacker at the University of Michigan, President Ford won two national championships (1932, 1933) and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1934. Michigan has since retired Ford’s No. 48 jersey. Ford was talented enough to receive offers to play professionally from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers though he turned them down to pursue a law degree at Yale.
While serving in office, President Ford swam every day in a pool he had constructed on the White House grounds in 1975. Skiing, tennis and golf were also part of his regular fitness routine.
Teddy Roosevelt (26th President; 1901-1909)
President Roosevelt was both an athlete and an outdoorsman, responsible for the country’s first real conservation efforts that allow the public to connect with nature and some of America’s most remarkable landmarks.
From a personal standpoint, Roosevelt embraced athletics, regularly jogging around the Washington Monument during his time in office. He also was a fan of tennis, having a court built on the White House grounds in 1902 allowing him to perfect his game. He could walk on stilts and once fought a professional boxer who blinded him in one eye.
But Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishments impacted all of us for the better. He established the country’s first National Park – Crater Lake in Oregon – a year into his presidency.
But he didn’t stop there, helping to protect over 230 million acres of land including 150 national forests, 51 federal bird refuges, 18 National Monuments and 5 National Parks. These include such monuments as Devil’s Tower and The Grand Canyon as well as such parks as Mesa Verde, Sully’s Hill and Wind Cave, leaving behind a legacy that we still enjoy to this day.
While not everyone can be President of the United States, we can (and should) emulate their passion for fitness. Get started by checking out our online store where we have the latest gear for skaters, snowboarders and skiers, surfers and SUP enthusiasts as well as an array of sunglasses perfect for golfers, fishermen and runners.