A colorful look at how modern presidents play sports, have used sports to play politics, and what our fan-in-chief can often tell us about our national pastimes.
POWER PLAYERS tells all the great stories of presidents and the sports they played, loved and spectated as a way to better understand what it takes to be elected to lead a country driven by sports fans of all stripes. While every modern president has used sports to relate to Joe Q. Public, POWER PLAYERS turns the lens around to examine how sports have shaped our presidents and made for some amazing moments in White House history, including:
Dwight Eisenhower played so much golf he had a putting green built outside the Oval Office! (He also almost died on a golf course while in office.)
- How John F. Kennedy’s touch-football games with family were knowing plays to polish the Camelot mystique.
- People might not have related to the aloof and awkward Richard Nixon but, hey, he would bowl a few frames just like them.
Ronald Reagan didn’t just play the part of “The Gipper” for the silver screen, but truly adopted the famous footballer’s never-say-die persona.
George H.W. Bush once ran a horseshoe league from the White House – with a commissioner and brackets! (He would later claim to have come up with the fan expression, “You da man.”)
Bill Clinton’s Arkansas Razorback fandom was so intense that he could be found shouting at the referees from a box at the basketball national championship game in 1994.
George W. Bush’s not only owned the Texas Rangers but also threw out the most iconic first pitch ever in the 2001 World Series.
- What really went down when Barack Obama played pickup hoops with the North Carolina Tarheels. (He later won the state by .3 percent of the vote.)
Donald Trump is the only president ever featured in a professional wrestling storyline—and everything real and fake that went with that.
In the pages of POWER PLAYERS, a love of sports shines through as the key to understanding who these presidents really
were and how they chose to play by the rules, occasionally bluff or cheat, all the while coaching the country into a few quality wins and some notorious losses.
Chris Cillizza is a CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large, covering national politics including the White House. After stints with political handicapper Charlie Cook and at Roll Call newspaper, he joined the Washington Post in 2006. He spent a decade there, founding “The Fix,” one of the first political blogs for a mainstream media organization. Cillizza joined CNN shortly after the 2016 election and reports live under the brand, "The Point with Chris Cillizza."