Sports champions going to the White House is not a political act
Today, the New England Patriots became the first professional sports champions to visit the White House during the Trump presidency. Given the controversy surrounding the new president, people will over-analyze which players chose to attend the event and who didn’t. While a few Patriots players refused to visit the White House as an act of protest, most of the team showed up.
And that’s absolutely fine.
Going to the White House as the Super Bowl champions has nothing to do with politics. The tradition originated in 1865 when Andrew Johnson welcomed the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals baseball teams; it’s just another wonderful opportunity to show off your status as the greatest team in the world. For some of these players, it’s their first (and possibly last) chance to spend an entire offseason being a champion and enjoying all the perks that come with it. One of those perks is the opportunity to visit the building where many of our nation’s greatest leaders have lived. It’s not an endorsement of Donald Trump or his policies. It’s just a cool opportunity.
A few players on the Patriots team announced they were not visiting the White House due to political beliefs. Running back LeGarrette Blount said in an interview, “I just don’t feel welcome in that house.” And team captain Devin McCourty said, “With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices, I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”
Obviously, Blount and McCourty’s reasons for not going to the White House are political. They feel attending the event would send a message that they don’t agree with. And again, that’s absolutely fine. While there’s nothing political about going to the White House, that doesn’t mean you should go if you’re uncomfortable with the idea.
Almost every year recently an athlete refuses to go to the White House regardless of who’s in office. At this point, it’s practically part of the tradition. And, quite frankly, it’s a far better excuse than the players who don’t go to “spend time with family.” Cut the crap, Brady! We know you’re going golfing.
If a player wants to publicly express their political beliefs, that is their right to do so. But the media shouldn’t speculate and bring attention to the players who choose to go. Neither Blount nor McCourty said they would blame their teammates for visiting the White House, and neither should fans.
Not everything involving the White House has to put under a political microscope. Otherwise, next year the kids will need to hide their faces when participating in the White House Easter Egg hunt.
Photo credit: Creative Commons