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Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s accidental steamrolling of a young schoolboy in Tasmania has underscored one fundamental truth of politics – mix it with sport at your peril.

Morrison joined in a practice football match with the junior Devonport Strikers team yesterday, but stumbled into a full-body tackle of young player Luka.

The club made a joke of it on Facebook, hailing Luka’s courage and determination in stopping the PM from scoring, while Morrison himself thanked the boy for being a “good sport”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison accidentally knocks over a child during a visit to the Devonport Strikers. (Getty)

But it’s not the first time an attempt at a folksy photo op ended in calamity.

It isn’t even the first time to involve a child being flattened by a grown man.

In 2015, when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, he took part in a game of what was meant to be touch rugby during a trip to Japan.

Ball in hand, Johnson appeared to lower the shoulder and charge, losing his footing and crashing into a young player, bowling him over.

Boris Johnson crunched a young Japanese boy with a shoulder charge during a rugby photo op.
Boris Johnson crunched a young Japanese boy with a shoulder charge during a rugby photo op. (AFP)
Boris Johnson is a serial participant in sporting media ops. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Former Australian prime minister John Howard, who has been a prominent face on the campaign trail in 2022, is a renowned cricket tragic.

But all the enthusiasm in the world didn’t help during a trip to Pakistan in 2005, when the Australian Defence Force – there providing earthquake relief – invited Howard to join in a game with some local kids.

Former prime minister John Howard’s bowling attempt lives on in infamy. (Andrew Taylor)
The then-PM was visiting an ADF contingent providing earthquake relief. (Nine Archives)

The footage of Howard’s efforts – none of which reached the young batsmen – went viral.

But Howard was able to set the record straight later, revealing it hadn’t been a cricket ball at all, but rather a taped-up tennis ball.

In 2019, speaking at a Bradman Foundation Gala Dinner, Howard joked it was the biggest regret of his political career.

In response, RAAF Sergeant Michael Gunn admitted it was he who had taped the ball – which he then presented to the former PM.

One of the most prominent intersections of politics and sport, of course, is the tradition of US presidents throwing out the first pitch of the baseball season.

William Howard Taft, in 1910, was the first sitting US president to do so in grand occasion, and since then the only commanders-in-chief to skip it have been Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

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Perhaps one of the most significant in recent memory was George W. Bush’s opening pitch of game three of the World Series on October 30, 2001 – less than two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Fears of follow-up attacks were still high in the US, and security was high on the day, with Bush wearing a bulletproof vest as he took to the mound.

US President George W. Bush throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to game three of the 2001 World Series.
US President George W. Bush throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to game three of the 2001 World Series. (Getty)

The president wound up and delivered the first pitch – a clean strike.

Receiver Todd Greene later called it a “perfect throw” that served as a “healing moment” for the country.

Bush’s presidential successor, Barack Obama, didn’t dodge the baseball field but was more widely noted for changing the sport of choice for would-be White House insiders from golf to basketball.

Former US President Barack Obama is a dab hand with the ball. (AP)

Obama even called upon his skills during the 2020 presidential campaign alongside Joe Biden when he visited a high school in Michigan.

The then-59-year-old was filmed sinking a casual three-pointer as he walked past the net.

“That’s what I do,” he grinned to the crowd.

Probably the greatest exponent of mixing sport and politics on the world stage today is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is known for taking part in hockey matches. (AP)

Putin is not only a keen judoka, but regularly appears in ice hockey games alongside national players, where he routinely scores multiple goals despite being in his 60s.

It’s left up to the observer to decide how sincere any of the ferociously image-conscious Russian leader’s opponents are about getting in his way.

And earlier this year, Putin saw his martial arts credibility hammered as the International Judo Federation and World Taekwondo stripped him of honourary titles and belts, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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