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David Whitley: Clinton, Trump both fail presidential sports test

By David Whitley Orlando Sentinel

LeBron James endorsed Hillary Clinton on Monday. He cited her social and education policies, which is all well and good.

He didn’t mention another presidential role – being the Sports Fan in Chief.

That’s because Clinton probably thinks James plays for the Cleveland Browns, which is pretty bad until you consider that Donald Trump thought Johnny Manziel would lead the Browns to a Super Bowl.

Bad news, America. When it comes to sports and the presidency, both Clinton and Trump will make you consider moving to Canada.

I realize a candidate’s sporting cachet isn’t as important as their plan to defeat ISIS. But it never hurts to have a vigorous, sports-savvy figure in the Oval Office.

It makes them more formidable to our enemies and more relatable to the average American. Think of Teddy Roosevelt hunting big game or JFK playing golf or Ronald Reagan riding horses on his ranch.

The president sets a tone, hence the President’s Physical Fitness Test. It’s hard to tell kids to get in shape when you get stuck in the White House bathtub like William Howard Taft.

Say what you will about Barack Obama, but he was not going to get stuck in a bathtub. I’m not so sure either current exercise-challenged candidate will carry on that legacy.

And there was no questioning Obama’s fan credentials. For some reason, I can’t picture Clinton filling out an NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN.

I don’t want to come off as sexist, since a woman can be as formidable chopping wood or riding horses as a man. It’s just hard to imagine this particular woman doing anything like that.

I asked the Clinton campaign about Hillary’s athletic background and sporting interests, but my emails were not answered. Maybe there was a problem with her server.

As for her fan qualifications, Clinton grew up in Chicago and claimed to be a Cubs fan. At least until she ran for a New York senate seat in 1999, when she became a Yankees fan.

A real sports fan would never trade team loyalty for votes. Then again, a real sports fan would never destroy an entire league.

Trump whacked the USFL when, as owner of the New Jersey Generals, he led the move from a spring to a fall schedule. Going against the NFL made as much sense as going into a presidential debate with no practice.

Trump does appear to have broken an athletic sweat in his day. He played football, baseball and soccer in high school.

“He could have probably played pro ball as a pitcher,” classmate Ted Levine told Business Insider. “I think he threw 80 miles an hour. I was the catcher. He made my hand black and blue.”

Trump eventually settled on golf as his passion. The good side is he’s built a lot of swanky courses. The bad side is his tax accountant apparently fills out his scorecard.

Trump claims to be a 3 handicap, but many have questioned his devotion to the rules. One guy I know who played a round with him said Trump raked in any putt shorter than 5 feet.

There’s no doubt Trump’s a sports fan, though you have to question his acumen. He was a big believer in Tim Tebow’s NFL skills, and tweeted this about the 2014 draft:

“Teams are making a big mistake not taking Johnny Manziel.”

I don’t know if you want him handling nuclear codes, but you definitely want Trump in your fantasy league. The only easier mark might be Clinton, since she’d draft LeBron as a wide receiver.

Either way, when it comes to this election, most sports-centric voters will probably go to the polls next month and repeat Trump’s favorite golf line.

“Can I have a mulligan?”

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