The White House visit for America’s champion sports teams was once an eagerly anticipated honor for the victors of their respective leagues, but all that has changed since Donald J. Trump took office.
Since 2016, the decision to attend is an inherently political act. A visit to the Trump White House is a tacit endorsement of his repulsive racism and his disturbingly authoritarian policies, which the vast majority of athletes cannot bear to stomach.
The 2018 champions of the Women’s National Basketball Association finals, the Seattle Storm, made it very clear on Friday that they had no intention of going to the White House if Trump decided to invite them this year.
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“At this point does it even need to be discussed? It’s come up. We pay attention to what happened with Minnesota and not getting invited” said star point guard Sue Bird to the Seattle Times. “It’s a huge disappointment. (It) used to be something that’s really special and something that was an honor and you look forward to.”
Bird was referring to the Minnesota Lynx, who won the championship last year and did not receive an invitation from President Trump, who has thrown huge public tantrums over the refusal of men’s teams to visit the White House but has no interest in congratulating women for their equally important accomplishments.
Bird then wistfully reminisced about the Obama years, about the excitement and the wonder of her first visit to the White House (the Seattle Storm won their third title last Wednesday against the Washington Mystics).
“There’s an excitement about it. You’re going to the White House. I remember first walking in to meet President Obama and it’s like—just the aura—it’s insane. And now it’s, that’s not what the feeling is anymore. It doesn’t feel exciting. Nobody wants to go. It’s totally changed and that’s disappointing because it used to be something that most athletes looked forward to.”
We definitely understand where she’s coming from. Donald Trump is widely reviled by the American people, and his ability to turn even something as uncontroversial as a visit by a sports team into an opportunity for misogynist disrespect is exactly why.’