The sight of championship-winning teams visiting the White House — taking a photo with the President, giving him a custom jersey, laughing at his jokes even if they’re just so-so — is one we’re all pretty accustomed to. And it’s been mostly innocuous. The President is honoring the best in a given sport, and the athletes are accepting the praise of the Commander-in-Chief.
Sure, some athletes have opted to skip the visit. Larry Bird stood up Ronald Reagan. Michael Jordan bailed on George H.W. Bush. Tom Brady was a no-show for Barack Obama. A few athletes have even publicly said they skipped the visit for political reasons, though like any social event you’re trying to get out of, it’s usually easier to just say you have some family thing going on and can’t make it.
But what does the White House visit look like in a world where athletes are more willing and able to use their popularity as a platform for social commentary or political protest? Several coaches and athletes discussed their displeasure and frustration over Donald Trump’s electoral victory very publicly. They’re also trying to win championships this year.
If they succeed, what will they do when President Trump extends an invitation?