Obama's sporty day: He shoots. He pitches. He awaits NCAA finals.

On Monday Obama played basketball with kids. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals-Phillies game. Next up, the NCAA finals in men's basketball, which the president will 'absolutely' be watching.

Jason Reed/Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama shoots for the hoop as he plays basketball with children during the 2010 Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, April 5, 2010.

The Obama administration grappled Monday with the continuing anti-Western remarks by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and looked ahead to the release Tuesday of its new nuclear strategy and the president’s departure for Prague on Wednesday.

But on this Easter Monday, President Obama’s day looked pretty sporty: shooting hoops with kids at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opening day game, and catching the NCAA basketball finals on TV Monday night.

In a White House that’s pushing hard to get kids to eat right and exercise, the Easter Egg Roll gave Mr. Obama a perfect opening for both messages. With about 25 children gathered around, Obama delivered an animated reading of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham,” which of course is all about trying new foods.

IN PICTURES: Presidential first pitches

"When your parents tell you to eat your broccoli, you don't know whether you're going to like them or not. You've got to try it," Obama told the kids. "When your parents tell you to eat your peas, eat your peas."

Make time for hoops

Then it was off to the basketball court for the second message of his wife’s “Let’s Move!” campaign: exercise. Obama joined the kids in line for some free throws, and reassured them they’re “going to be terrific.”

“Some of you are not much bigger than the ball, so it may be a little hard to reach right now, but stay with it,” he said.

Per the pool reporter, “Obama then jogged to the right corner, three-point mark on the court. Attempt one, missed. (Oooh!) Attempt two, missed. (Owww!) Attempt three, swoosh. (Yaay!)”

Obama is noted for his love of basketball and skill on the court. Who, after all, can forget watching Obama defeat former NBA player Clark Kellogg at a game of H-O-R-S-E (or as they called it, P-O-T-U-S, for president of the United States), which aired during halftime on Saturday’s Butler-Michigan State game?

Next stop: the diamond

But the next sport on Obama’s agenda was baseball – the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals opening day game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Two big questions loomed: Would the southpaw POTUS manage to throw the ball over the plate? And would he be caught wearing “mom jeans” again?

As for the attire, a cause of much ridicule after he wore, um, unflattering blue jeans when he threw out the first pitch at the All Star game last summer, Obama avoided the issue altogether this time. He showed up in khakis. The pitch? Obama called it “a little high and outside,” but press pooler Sam Youngman of The Hill newspaper opined that, “with all due respect to POTUS, his pitch was more than just a little high and outside, though he did clear the plate.”

Duke versus Butler

This summery, sports-drenched day will be capped off by the finals of the NCAA basketball championship. Will POTUS be watching? “Absolutely,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

In the announcers’ box after his first pitch, Obama predicted a victory for Duke University, though he added that underdog Butler University is a “great story.” Predicting Duke was certainly the safe answer. His personal aide, Reggie Love, played on Duke’s 2001 championship team.

“I can’t imagine what Reggie Love is going to be like if Duke wins tonight,” Mr. Gibbs said. “This building and this complex will not be big enough for Reggie’s exuberance and the rest of us to coincide in the same place.”

IN PICTURES: Presidential first pitches

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