President’s Day check into sports approval ratings

Happy Presidents Day, a holiday that is more popularly known as “Why didn’t the mail come today?” and “So who’s birthday is today any how?”

But the holiday holds a special meaning in the sports world, where many of our Presidents excelled before moving into the White House.

ESPN’s Richie Whitt compiled a top 10 list of the most athletic Presidents in U.S. History a few years ago, and it’s a pretty impressive lineup.

My only problem with the list is historical perspective. Eight of the 10 are post-World War II Presidents and all 10 served in the 1900s or later.

I’ll bet Honest Abe would have made a heck of a threat in the low post, and Andrew Jackson was known to be an excellent hunter, horseman and dueler (not much of a future in that sport; one loss and you’re done).

But given that sports didn’t really rise and become a national phenomenon until late in our nation’s history, I’ll accept this form of age discrimination.

Anyway, here’s Whitt’s top 10 list, which may need to be revamped now that Barack Obama has proven he can dunk. Enjoy the list and holiday:

10. George W. Bush: His first-pitch strike – in a bullet-proof vest – before Game 1 of ’01 World Series at Yankee Stadium is best sports moment ever for a U.S. President.

9. Woodrow Wilson: Played center field for Davidson College.

8. Richard Nixon: Scrappy linebacker at tiny Whittier College.

7. Jimmy Carter: Played baseball and ran cross country in the Navy.

6. Teddy Roosevelt: Boxed at Harvard and played tennis on the White House front lawn.

5. Ronald Reagan: Played football at Eureka College and portrayed “The Gipper” in Knute Rockne.

4. George H. Bush: Left-handed first baseman led Yale to baseball’s College World Series in ‘48.

3. Dwight Eisenhower: A linebacker/running back at Army, the “Kansas Cyclone” hurt a knee tackling Jim Thorpe in 1912.

2. Barack Obama: Lanky lefty led Occidental College’s basketball team in scoring in ‘79.

1. Gerald Ford: All-American center led Michigan’s football team to National Championship in ’33.

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