Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The 5 Most Favorite Sports of JFK

As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy approaches, our country's 35th President, it seems an appropriate time to look back on his favorite sports to play or to spectate.

President Kennedy had a lot of interest in sports and he understood the value in physical conditioning as it relates to overall wellness for the body and the mind.  He used his administration to put a lot of emphasis on keeping physical fitness a big part in the lives of all Americans, especially young people.  Interestingly, he connected physical fitness to maintaining freedom and asked Americans to take more responsibility in staying healthy and fit.  Kennedy hired Bud Wilkinson, legendary University of Oklahoma football coach, to head his fitness program.

Swimming was a big part of JFK's life.  It was a sport he participated in competitively growing up through his high school years and even into college at Harvard.  He loved being around the water and would often go for long swims in the ocean when on vacation.

Football was a big deal for the Kennedy family.  He played it during his high school years and was seen often at family gatherings playing touch football.  JFK enjoyed watching football, as well.  He was due to go to the Army-Navy football game a couple of weeks later after his visit to Texas in '63.  Navy had a great team that year, led by Roger Staubach, and the President had served in the Navy.

Golf is a sport often associated with JFK.  JFK was a heck of a good golfer, maybe the best Presidential golfer of all time, depending on who you ask.  He also played golf at Harvard.  He loved the sport, but because of his back problems, he was limited to how much golf he could play.  He once cancelled a tee time with Arnold Palmer due to his ailing back.

Baseball intrigued the President.  He was an avid fan of his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox.  He had to become a fan of the Washington Nationals as he attended three home openers in which he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in each of them, 1961, 1962 and 1963.  He also attended the 1962 All-Star game.  He also really enjoyed the statistics element of the sport.

Sailing was the President's passion and he was happiest when doing it.  He starting sailing as a child and later entered events and won them. Later as President, JFK had his yachts installed with the latest in high-tech communication equipment, so that he could get work done while at sea.  He attended and spoke at the 'America's Cup' in 1962.

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