When a college or professional sports team wins the championship, part of the spoils of victory is a trip to the White House to get congratulations from the President of the United States. This tradition dates as far back to 1865 when Andrew Jackson welcomed the Brooklyn Athletics and Washington Nationals amateur baseball teams to the White House. For the most part these visits were seen as an honor and teams relished the opportunity to meet the sitting President.
In today’s political climate things have gotten a little more complicated. Now visiting the nation’s capital and meeting with the Commander in Chief could be seen as support for a specific agenda. In the last 8 years, for the most part with President Obama there were not many issues. There have been a few questionable no shows by athletes who may or may not have right leaning views. Of course, those gentlemen usually cited schedule conflicts.
Enter 2017 with President Donald Trump. A man whose platform while running for office was anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and had a lot of misogynistic tones. Whether he was caught on tape advocating grabbing women by their private parts or just opening discussing putting up a wall stop brown people from crossing the border this might be the most controversial modern President that we have had. Adding members to his inner circle that are huge figures from the Alt Right like Steve Bannon, have people uncomfortable with supporting anything that has to with him being in office.
There are athletes who have already stated that they will not attend the White House visit as long as Trump is in office. A lot people believe that the Cavilers will be the last NBA team to visit the Oval Office as long as we have this Commander In Chief. In leagues like the NBA where the majority of its players are African American may not feel as comfortable laughing in a photo op for man that is perceived to be racist. It is hard to imagine Women’s College Basketball teams or WNBA teams feeling comfortable with hanging out with a man that has been accused of sexual harassment.
We may get a window into all of this is going to go very soon. This year New England Patriots are back in the Superbowl. The coach, quarterback and owner all have been associated with Donald Trump. Now all don’t want to answer questions about their relationship to the President but that may become an unavoidable topic when they may take that trip to DC. In 2017 the White House trip has turned into a political statement and now we will see what statement athletes want to make.
Keith B. Holt
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