These Presidents Were Good Athletes DURING Their Time in Office

We’re celebrating Presidents Day in the United States, which is a national holiday to honor our current and former commanders in chief.

Perhaps more importantly, many companies give employees the day off today.

In celebration, I’m sharing my favorite athletic Presidents. Let’s start with perhaps the greatest basketball player in White House history.

Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Obama participated in a 3-on-3 tournament while he was campaigning back in 2007, and he regularly holds games on the White House court with cabinet members and congressmen.

He also has played a few hundred rounds of golf while in office, and he carves time out in his schedule for weight training and cardio workout sessions.

And ain’t no other president with as much swag.

Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

The only president with a sport named after him, Hooverball is a combination of volleyball and tennis, played with a six-pound medicine ball. Hoover and members of his staff, known as the “Medicine Ball Cabinet,” would get exercise in by hurling the ball over an eight-foot-tall net.

To this day, the Hoover Presidential Library Association hosts the Hooverball Championships in Hoover’s hometown of West Branch, Iowa.

Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

Though he took bicycling vacations, Wilson’s true love was golf. He played more than 1,000 rounds during his two terms in office, and he even had Secret Service members paint his golf balls black so he could still play during the winter. Gotta know if you’ve ended up in the rough, after all.

Wilson gets bonus points for being the first president to throw out the first pitch in a World Series. He tossed the rock during the 1915 Fall Classic between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.

Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)

Ike boasted a litany of athletic accomplishments before ever stepping foot in the Oval Office, but once there, he quickly adopted golf as his game of choice.

A member of the Augusta National Golf Club, Eisenhower had a small facility installed at Camp David. He established the President’s Council on Youth Fitness to encourage children to be more active.

Some 65 years later, Pokémon Go and viral TikTok videos are carrying on his legacy.

John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

Having a morning ritual is important. Adams had a ritual that makes me tired just thinking about it.

He got up at 5 a.m., stripped down, and swam in the Potomac River. But skinny-dipping wasn’t his lone athletic endeavor; he frequently took walks, rode horses, and shot billiards. In fact, he installed the White House’s first pool table.

George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)

The elder Bush is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, but he’s probably better known for two other activities: tennis and skydiving. He expanded the White House tennis court and, after his presidency, was hit in the butt by an Anna Kournikova serve during a celebrity doubles match.

Bush Sr. credits his mother for his interest in the sport. He once complained he was off his game, to which she replied, “You don’t have a game! Get out and work harder.”

Bush also went skydiving eight times, including on his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays.

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Teddy Roosevelt is the presidential equivalent of Chuck Norris memes. There was hardly an athletic challenge this man could not conquer. Suffering from debilitating asthma as a child, Roosevelt pledged himself to a strenuous, active lifestyle. He was an avid singlestick player and jogged regularly around the Washington Monument.

Early on in his presidency, he had a tennis court built onto the White House grounds, which he used often. He boxed and practiced judo, reaching a third-degree brown belt in the sport. Roosevelt was no stranger to injury – he showed up to a White House reception with his arm bandaged after a singlestick wound, and he hosted a boxing match against a pro boxer in the White House that ended with the president being blinded in one eye.

And while not necessarily a sporting accomplishment, Roosevelt was once shot in the chest, but the bullet was stopped by a 50-page speech that was in his breast pocket.

He gave the speech later that afternoon. That’s awesome.