April 4, 2017
Press Contact: Cristin Mitchell
35 Touch Football Games to be Played in Honor of John F. Kennedy’s Centennial
BOSTON—The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation today announced that it will be organizing 35 touch football games in honor of the centennial of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, and his commitment to physical fitness. The games will be played throughout Massachusetts and in several other states on the weekend of April 8 and 9. The public is also invited to join the celebration by organizing teams and playing their own games during the April 8/9 weekend as a tribute to President Kennedy and his 100th birthday. The games are open to players of all ages, skills and abilities.
More information on registering a team can be found here.
John F. Kennedy shared a love of sports with his brothers and sisters. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., encouraged the competition among his children - with family weekends and holidays spent playing tennis, sailing, and the rough and tumble family football games that were documented in photographs and video that captured the nation’s imagination and contributed to the family’s all-American image. [Download photos and video here.]
This interest in physical activity extended to Kennedy’s public policy efforts. In fact, he showed his commitment to improving the nation's fitness even before he took the oath of office. After the election, Kennedy published "The Soft American" in Sports Illustrated. The article established the basis of his proposed program, including a White House Committee on Health and Fitness, later renamed the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The program was a way of encouraging the nation's youth to actively participate in the "New Frontier."
Perhaps Kennedy’s most famous intervention in the area of fitness was the fifty-mile hike, a challenge to the US Marines to walk 50 miles in 20 hours. Many Americans took the hike as a challenge from their president. The Kennedy council capitalized on this enthusiasm with a national publicity campaign on physical fitness. The campaign was extensive, media-savvy, and countrywide. To demonstrate the administration’s commitment to the effort, Attorney General Robert Kennedy undertook the hike, clad in leather oxford shoes, and completed the full distance through snow and slush.
Although Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness did not have the authority to impose a national program, it developed and promoted a curriculum to improve fitness. The council's fitness curriculum was devised with the cooperation of nineteen major US educational and medical organizations. The council engaged in a sweeping drive to achieve widespread participation in the program for the 1961–1962 school year. A core group of almost a quarter of a million schoolchildren took part in pilot projects in six states. At the end of the year, the results of the fitness test showed a general improvement of physical education programs around the country. The work of the council also helped identify President Kennedy with fitness, vigor, and preparedness.
The 35 touch football games are part of the JFK Library’s year-long JFK Centennial Celebration aimed at inspiring new generations to find meaning and inspiration in the enduring American values that formed the heart of the Kennedy presidency.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is one of 14 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. It is supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.