Who Was The Most Athletic U.S. President?

With President’s Day approaching, I couldn’t help but wonder, who has been the most athletic President in U.S. history? Like, seriously, if you were selecting a team for a pick-up game, and you had all the presidents (during their physical prime) lined up in front of you, who would you take first?

Here’s what I found.

Basketball: Barack Obama

Dude has skills. He can lay it in, has a decent jump shot and is a pretty slick passer. He reportedly played basketball for Occidental College in the late 70s. Below is a picture of him playing high school ball followed by some nice play from when he was senator in Illinois.

Barack Obama shoots the ball while playing as a guard for the state champion Punahou School basketball team, Hawaii, 1979. (Photo by Laura S. L. Kong/Getty Images)

Barack Obama shoots the ball while playing as a guard for the state champion Punahou School basketball team, Hawaii, 1979. (Photo by Laura S. L. Kong/Getty Images)

Baseball/Softball: Bush sr. or Bush jr.

George W. Bush

Remember his first-pitch following 9/11? Nailed it. The former part owner of the Texas Rangers played baseball at Yale and is also known to stay active through running and cycling. He also completed a marathon in his 40s under four hours.

George H.W. Bush

Bush sr. was a southpaw first-baseman who played in the first two College World Series’. He was team captain and batted .354 his senior year. He took up golf in his later years and reportedly had a handicap around 11.

Swimming: John F. Kennedy

Kennedy swam for Harvard and won a college sailing championship (so Kennedy) with his brother, Joe. He also played legendary touch football games on the White House lawn during his presidency. Let’s not forget he also saved a fellow soldier from drowning during WW II, swimming in the open ocean for miles until help arrived.

circa 1935: US statesman John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the US (back row, third from left) with fellow members of the Harvard Swimming Team. John F Kennedy Library (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

circa 1935: US statesman John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the US (back row, third from left) with fellow members of the Harvard Swimming Team. John F Kennedy Library (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Shooting/Hunting/Outdoors: Teddy Roosevelt

The five-foot-nine man built like a tank was known as a rugged outdoorsman who could shoot a tick off the back of a donkey. In fact, he once killed almost 300 animals in one safari hunt. He was also a boxer as a youth.

Photograph of Theodore Roosevelt 1898 (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)

Photograph of Theodore Roosevelt 1898 (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)

Golf: Dwight Eisenhower

“Ike” was a running back and linebacker at West Point. He played more than 800 rounds of golf while in office and broke 80 at Augusta four times in that span.

Football: Gerald Ford

And this is likely who I’m taking No. 1 overall in my fantasy presidency sports draft — Ford played center on two national championship teams at Michigan (1932 and ’33), earning team MVP his senior year. He also played in the College All-Star Game against the Chicago Bears and was such a stud that he was reportedly offered contracts by the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers but decided to enter the political world instead by doing to Yale Law.

Honorable Mention:

Jimmy Carter: A cross country runner and baseball player during his service in the Navy. He was also a standout basketball player in high school.

Ronald Reagan: Played football for little Eureka College

Woodrow Wilson: Played centerfield at Davidson College.


Josh Helmuth is the editor of Crave Sports.

Photos: Getty