Mayoral candidates chat about their favorite sports

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By Ivan Pereira

Walking the city streets to get votes isn’t enough physical activity for most of the mayoral candidates.

From spinning and basketball to gym time and swimming, those vying to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg stay fit in a variety of ways.

Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, said the candidates’ athletic choices and policies show they are passionate about creating a healthier New York lifestyle.

“If you yourself practice something, you recognize the importance of it,” she said. “They will be more likely to implement it out there.”

Candidates City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former congressman Anthony Weiner, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, city Comptroller John Liu, Sal Albanese, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and former MTA chief Joe Lhota shared their favorite athletic activities with amNewYork. GOP contender John Catsimatidis declined to answer.

The remaining candidates could not be reached for comment.


Quinn admitted that she was never a real gym rat until a few years ago, when a friend introduced her to spin classes. The city council speaker said she loved the thrill of indoor cycling, not only because it was a great exercise, but also because she could enjoy the workout in the company of others.

“The people are always fun and it’s exciting,” she said. “Much to my surprise, I became hooked immediately.”

In her campaign agenda, Quinn pushes for a mandate that requires new schools to have indoor and outdoor phys ed space, and the creation of progress reports that track schools’ efforts in keeping their students active.


The former congressman is famous for his athletic pursuits, paritcularly hockey and baseball. You can find him slapping a puck at the Chelsea Piers ice rink, where he plays goalie in a couple of leagues at the center. He said the sport has been a passion since he was nine.

The former congressman said hockey gives him a chance to unwind from the tabloid headlines and political debates.

“It also lets me take out a little aggression. I can’t take it out on a reporter but I can take it out on the ice,” he joked.

Weiner said he wants to extend the time students have physical education at public schools because it will enhance their academics.

“It is something that whoever is the leader of the city can do,” he said.


Despite being 6-foot-5, de Blasio was always overshadowed as a teenager by a Knicks great at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts.

“The only guy in my high school taller than me was Patrick Ewing, but unfortunately I never had those kind of moves,” he said.

Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the public advocate from shooting hoops from time to time. Although he may not be competing in a H-O-R-S-E tournament with NBA All-Stars, de Blasio said playing pickup games with his 15-year-old son, Dante, has helped the two bond over the years. As mayor, he said he would look into increasing funding for afterschool activities so that more kids and teens can play their favorite sports in safe and well- equipped playgrounds and facilities.


Liu said he enjoys watching and playing a variety of sports. But baseball’s on the top of his list. Liu, who sometimes sports a Mets cap, said he really started to love the game after his 12-year-old son Joey developed an affinity for it.

“Joey loves baseball,” Liu says. “He is Mr. Baseball all day, every day. And I’m his private coach.”

Liu’s office pointed to an audit it conducted in 2011 that said the city’s Department of Education isn’t providing adequate physical education to its students.

As mayor, Liu said he would work to bolster phys ed so that it meets the state’s standards


The former city councilman — who has a master’s in public health and is a former gym instructor — said he makes sure that he makes time for exercise. Albanese said he has a nelliptical and weight set in his home and uses them regularly.

“I always feel sharper on the days I work out. You react better,” he said.

Albanese added that if he was elected he would bring those exercise machines to the basement at City Hall and work out during his late hours.

He said he would aim to instill that same healthy habit among New York’s students and push for more phys ed time in schools.

“Research shows when you’re in good shape you learn better,” he said.


The former Bronx borough president is one of the millions of people who have caught onto the P90X exercise routine, his spokesman said. Aside from working out his muscles, Carrion also bikes, runs and kayaks the waters off City Island when he can.

Spokesman Donald Kaplan said the candidate is focused on improving fitness among the city’s youth and aims to emulate John F. Kennedy’s fitness promotion program.

“As mayor, he would create a mayor’s fitness challenge that all New York City students would participate in,” Kaplan said.

Carrion also stresses increasing the time for physical education in the city’s public schools, according to the spokesman.


The former city comptroller says he enjoys the occasional trip to the golf course when he’s not campaigning. Thompson is also an NBA fanatic.

“While I’m a Knicks fan, it’s great to see the Nets playing in my home borough of Brooklyn,” he said in a statement.

Thompson said he was very concerned about the fact that one-quarter of the city’s students are obese. Thompson, who was against the mayor’s proposed soda ban, said he would work on ideas to reverse the trend.

“As mayor, I’ll make sure working families in every community have access to nutritious food and put physical education back in our schools,” he said.


The former MTA chief is a fan of the water as he regularly swims at his local pool. When the weather gets warmer, Lhota hits the beach and regularly body surfs, according to his campaign spokeswoman.

“He loves the ocean and the beach. He finds it invigorating and a great way to clear his head,” she said in a statement.

Lhota’s campaign didn’t return requests for his physical education agenda.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 9th, 2013 at 11:11 am and is filed under amNewYork, Feature, Politics, Print Articles, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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