Trump urges kids to ‘work hard, get in the game’ at White House field day

May 31, 2018 GMT

Joined by famous athletes such as Herschel Walker and Mariano Rivera, President Trump hosted a field day for kids at the White House Wednesday to kick off his initiative to increase youth participation in sports.

“Work hard, get in the game, play to win and most of all, have a good time,” the president told the students on the South Lawn.

Through the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, the administration is seeking to reverse a trend of declining participating in team sports and to encourage more low-income students to take part.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order in February to get the ball rolling and to refocus the effort on team sports instead of former President Barack Obama’s emphasis on nutrition and fitness.

The event featured stations that included flag football, baseball, volleyball, golf, soccer and track and field. Among the retired athletes taking part were Mr. Rivera, a former New York Yankees pitcher; Mr. Walker, an ex-NFL running back; and Misty May-Treanor, a retired beach volleyball Olympian.

The president told the youngsters that team sports teach patience, perseverance, hard work and determination.

“These experiences can’t be replicated on a cellphone or a game console,” Mr. Trump said. “Participating in sports builds character, forges friendships, tears down barriers I’ve loved sports all of my life.”

He said participation in team sports has been declining, especially among economically disadvantaged students.

“We must reverse these trends, and we will,” the president said.

Other participants included “The Incredible Hulk” actor Lou Ferrigno, who befriended Mr. Trump while appearing on “Celebrity Apprentice”; former New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon; and professional golfer Natalie Gulbis.

The sports and fitness council was established in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower; each president has placed his own stamp on the council and its priorities.

During Mr. Obama’s presidency, first lady Michelle Obama forged her “Let’s Move!” initiative that emphasized activities such as jumping rope to fight childhood obesity.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released an accompanying report Wednesday that shows a gender gap in youth sports, with far fewer girls participating.

And citing a statistic “potentially offsetting the benefits,” the report also noted that more than 2.6 million children each year suffer injuries from sports or other recreational activities that require treatment in an emergency room.

The CEA said promoting youth sports “need not come at major cost.”

“Made possible by volunteers in many American towns and cities, youth sports leagues promote healthier lifestyles and facilitate positive relationships that can enhance outcomes later in life,” the report said.