“From my side of things, there’s absolutely no politics involved,” Sidney Crosby, the captain of the Stanley Cup-winning Penguins, said Monday. “Hopefully it stays that way. It’s a visit we’ve done in the past. It’s been a good experience. It’s not about politics, that’s for sure.”
That’s how it used to be, but Trump has sought to make NFL players’ demonstrations to raise awareness of social injustice and racial inequality a matter of patriotism, calling for owners to suspend or fire those who do not stand and finding at least one owner, the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, willing to do so. In late September, Trump was called “a bum” by LeBron James and told the Golden State Warriors that their invitation to celebrate their NBA championship at the White House was withdrawn. He continued his war of words with ESPN on Tuesday morning, ripping the network and suspended “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill. And South Carolina women’s basketball Coach Dawn Staley said last week she was done talking about the fact that her national championship team wasn’t invited to the White House at all. (The men’s champion, North Carolina, received an invitation but declined.)
Although players often skip the visit for reasons that range from political to personal, the Penguins expect full attendance by the team. In February, half of the 68 players invited from the New England Patriots’ roster attended the ceremony. In June, Clemson’s national championship football team made its way to the White House.
”I think to have the opportunity to go to the White House obviously means that you’ve won a championship and that means a lot,” Sullivan said. ”What our team has been able to accomplish in the last two seasons our team is extremely proud of.”
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