Oval Office Athletes: Presidents and the Sports They Played

I don’t know why but I never imagine presidents as being athletic. I always imagine that they spend their free time similarly to the rest of us – by having dinner with their family, watching TV, and maybe playing online bingo with bingo-promo-code.co.uk. However, I have been mistaken. We all know that presidents play many roles during their time in office. They are statesmen, politicians, and diplomats. But they’ve also been athletes. The US presidents have come from a wide range of athletic backgrounds—from football to baseball to wrestling—and had unique experiences with sports while they were serving as president.

William H. Taft

President Taft was a baseball player and a golfer. He was a member of the Yale baseball team, the Yale football team, and even the Yale track team. As President, he threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Opening Day in 1910 (the same year he became president).

Zachary Taylor

Taylor was a large man, standing just over six feet tall and weighing in at 200 pounds. He was a skilled horseman and an excellent shot, having learned to shoot while hunting in his youth. Taylor also mastered fencing with swords and broadswords—he won several matches against other cadets during his time in West Point, which is how he earned the nickname “Old Rough and Ready.”

Taylor not only excelled at riding, shooting, swimming and swordplay; he was also known as an exceptional dancer. A guest at one of Taylor’s dances described him as “a great dancer—perfectly balanced.”

William Howard Taft

While the White House has long been a place of sports, William Howard Taft was one of the first presidents to be an athlete himself. He was a member of both Yale’s baseball and football teams, as well as being on their track team and participating in other sporting activities. In fact, he even played semi-professional baseball for four seasons with the Cincinnati Reds! 

George W. Bush

George W. Bush played baseball, basketball and football at Yale University in the late 1960s. He was a pitcher on the baseball team and a wide receiver on the football team, but he also played point guard for the basketball team.

Bush excelled as an athlete in high school, as well. In 1965 he was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-American High School Basketball Team. He also earned letters in football and baseball at Phillips Academy Andover (class of 1964).

John F. Kennedy

As a young man, Kennedy played football and baseball in high school. He also played both sports at Harvard University, where he attended from 1936 to 1940. After graduating from college, Kennedy served in the Navy during World War II. While serving overseas, he continued to play football for the U.S. Naval Academy team—even leading them to victory over Army’s Black Knights in 1943 (which had been an annual tradition since 1901).