The 2016-17 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Sunday the team has accepted an invitation to meet President Donald Trump at the White House.
The announcement came one day after Trump disinvited the NBA champion Golden State Warriors as that team debated whether to visit the White House. The Pens’ announcement also came just two days after Trump called protesting NFL players “sons of bitches” who should be fired or suspended for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police violence and racism. On Saturday night MLB saw its first protest during the anthem with Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics joining protests.
In their statement, the Penguins acknowledged previous White House visits and attempted to thread a needle on the role of protest while still making the visit.
“Any agreement or disagreement with a president's politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways,” the statement read. “However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.”
The University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, who won the 2016-17 NCAA Division I championship in April, announced Saturday they would not visit the White House.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has also come out in support of the visit when asked by media members Sunday evening.
Sidney Crosby was also asked about #Pens’ White House decision post-game: "I support it. It’s a great honor for us to be invited there."— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) September 25, 2017