Among United States presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower ranks as one of the greatest all-around athletes. As a youth he hunted and fished in the area around Abilene, and while attending Abilene High School he played both baseball and football. At West Point he was described as a promising halfback during his first varsity season before a leg injury cut short his football career.
Golf, fishing, and horseback riding were some of the recreational activities he enjoyed during his three decades in the military service. During his presidency Eisenhower continued to pursue a number of sports and hobbies which provided moderate exercise, fresh air, relaxation, and competition. Golf, fishing, and hunting were the sports he participated in most actively, but he also found time for bridge, painting, and cooking.
Eisenhower’s highly visible participation in sports as President, coupled with the national trend toward increased leisure time in the 1950s, helped to increase the popularity of certain sports such as golf and fishing and to accentuate a growing awareness of the need for regular exercise to maintain good health. His ability to concentrate entirely on a sports activity while involved in it enabled him to periodically escape the pressures of office and may have been one of the reasons Eisenhower survived eight years as President.