Bullet Points: Presidential SportsmenByLukas Kaiser and Erik Amonson June 24, 2008 - 12:00 pm |
Barack Obama warmed his high school basketball team's bench. John McCain wrestled, and played tennis and football. Neither of them, though, would be close to being the first president with some semblance of physical coordination.
Our very first president, Mr. George Washington, the brave and heroic general of the American Revolution, liked playing with horseshoes. No wonder he was chopping down trees and killing British people: horseshoes are fucking boring. Playing with them is like playing with darts, except rather than requiring skills (like aim and hand eye coordination), the game requires the ownership of horseshoes. Sorry, George, but your hobby sucks.
Did Thomas Jefferson play ice hockey? Some internet punk seems to think so. According to an anonymous, unattributed addition to WikiAnswers, Mr. Jefferson played ice hockey with his father on frozen ponds. Granted, this is the only source that you can find that says this (trust me, I skimmed two Thomas Jefferson biographies even, no mention) but this is a more believable claim than the one that Abraham Lincoln was in the NBA. At least in Jefferson's case, ice hockey existed during the time that he was alive (unlike basketball, which wasn't invented until almost 30 years after Lincoln was killed). So, let's just pretend he DID play hockey (in addition to the verified sports/hobbies of fox hunting and horseback riding).
James Madison & James Monroe
Speaking of fox hunting, our 4th and 5th presidents both called it their sport of choice. In fact, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and many of the other early presidents seemed to rather enjoy blasting crude bullets at poor, innocent creatures, all without a (pun intended) sporting chance. That and they all owned slaves.
James K. Polk
James K Polk, our 11th president: a great, under-appreciated man who died of exhaustion shortly after he left office, had no known recorded hobbies or favorite sports. That says a lot. The guy was too busy doing a good job to fuck around on the golf course. We're looking at YOU, George W. Bush!
Ulysses S. Grant
Our 18th president, Mr. Ulysses S. Grant, was a somewhat overweight general from both the Civil and Mexican wars. Which is why it's super weird that his favorite sport was swimming around in a creek. I'm sorry, but I just find it hard to believe that Grant was ever a child, let alone the kind of kid who loved swimming so much he nearly drowned.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Our 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes, was a bad president. His election set the precedent that you could win the electoral vote, lose the popular vote and win the presidency. He ended Reconstruction. And he ordered soldiers to regulate striking railroad workers (which led to unnecessary bloodshed). And as we all know, bad presidents love their frivolous diversions. Hayes is no different; his sport of choice? Croquet, the dainty lawn game of the French countryside. Bravo, Mr. Hayes.
James Garfield & Chester A. Arthur
Billiards came of its own in the late 19th century and, in turn, two of our presidents from that era were rather fond of the sport. James Garfield (20) and Chester A. Arthur (21) are both known billiard players. We don't know the extent of their devotion to the sport - did they just play for sport or did they hustle fellow politicians and world leaders? But what we do know is that even though the games have common ancestry, billiards is way more badass than croquet. Fucking Rutherford B. Hayes.
Roosevelt grapples with a rare and dangerous human/train hybrid.
Theodore Roosevelt is unquestionably the athletic cream of the presidential crop. Actually, I'll take that back -- athletic cream sounds like something you apply to an itchy crotch. But let's say the Presidents all went to the same high school together. TR would have been the guy who struck fear in the dampened pants of guys like Woodrow Wilson. Quick -- name another President who knew jujitsu. Roosevelt was also a boxer and a wrestler who carries the extremely unique distinction of being the only President bad-ass enough for someone to name a rap label after his cavalry troop (Rough Riders / Ruff Ryders). A lesser known but fascinating factoid: Roosevelt also ghostwrote the entire DMX album "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot." Say worrrrrd.
William Howard Taft
If professional eating were around in Taft's day, he would have taken the cake. He would have also taken the sausages, the beer, the cheese, the bacon and any salads with a mayonnaise base. He then would have put them all together in a giant sandwich and eaten them in his giant bathtub. Oh yes, he had a giant bathtub installed in the White House after he got stuck in the previous one. One famous story involves Taft sending a telegram to his War Secretary in D.C. reading, "Went on a horse ride today; feeling good." The reply came back from Elihu Root: "How's the horse?"
On at least one occasion, he also attempted to play golf.
John F. Kennedy
As a youth, Kennedy played a number of sports including football, basketball and tennis. Of the Kennedy boys, though, it's generally understood that JFK was probably the most sickly and frail. All those pictures of him tossing a football around projected an image of a vital young athlete, but in reality, Kennedy's body was breaking down. Of course, one of his major physical problems was a ruptured disc in his back suffered while playing college football -- an experience which gave him considerably more competitive athletic prowess than pretty much every other president, in spite of the emaciated, pain-pilling frame he brought to the White House.
Richard M. Nixon
When he wasn't expanding executive powers, making inroads with China or cursing the immortal souls of those on his enemies' list, Richard Nixon was bowling. In fact, he loved the game so much that he had a single lane alley built beneath the White House. Chances are, he rolled on Shabbas at every opportunity.
George H.W. Bush
While somehow his son has acquired the reputation as the baseball player -- probably due to the fact that he once held a controlling interest in the Texas Rangers -- in fact it was his father, H.W., who brought the mad baseballery to the family name. During their respective times at Yale, Dubya was leading cheers while his father was the captain of the baseball team. Check out the above picture of Yaley Bush shaking Babe Ruth's hand. You don't get those kinds of photo ops on the cheer squad.