Wednesday, March 23, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1897


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, March 23, 1961, President John F. Kennedy, concerned about the physical fitness of the American people, appointed winning University of Oklahoma football coach, Bud Wilkinson*, as a special consultant on the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

Coach Wilkinson, who would run for the United States Senate in 1964 as a Republican, served on JFK's council from 1961 to 1964.  His contribution to the Council on Physical Fitness included the development of eleven different floor exercises for students.

Coach Wilkinson said:

"Pure spectatorism is a vicarious thrill....but participation is more beneficial, win or lose."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower had initiated an executive physical fitness program in 1956 titled "The President's Council on Youth Fitness," and today it is known officially as "The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition."

President Kennedy, who appointed Richard Swider as the Council's administrator, promoted 50 mile hikes as part of the development of physical fitness.

*Charles Burnham Wilkinson (1916-1994) was born in Minneapolis, MN & played quarterback for the University of Minnesota winning 3 consecutive national championships from 1934 to 1936.  CBW graduated in 1937 with a degree in English.

After his retirement from coaching, during which his record at OU was 145-29-4, CBW served as a color commentator for ABC Sports.


"President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition,"

JFK & Coach Bud Wilkinson
Photo by Abbie Rowe,
National Park Service
March 23, 1961