Shortly before leaving office, President Obama hosted the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs at the White House.
Precedent dictated the team would visit Washington later in the summer, as the Kansas City Royals did last July. The trip most likely would have occurred when the Cubs played the Nationals in late June, or even more likely, following the All-Star break before their series in Baltimore against the Orioles.
But they chose to come early, visiting the nation’s capital in the waning days of the Obama presidency.
Now whether this was politically motivated, a matter of convenience — so as not to distract the team during the season or the fact a team from Chicago which hadn’t won the World Series since 1908, coincidentally won with a president from Chicago in the White House, we’ll never know.
During the Cubs visit, the White House East Room was full of Cubs fans in the administration decked out in everything from an Ernie Banks pinstripe jersey, to a blue and red Cubs yarmulke.
The Cubs in attendance laughed while President Obama made jokes about GM Theo Epstein turning around his beloved Democratic Party following last November’s election shellacking at the hands of the Republicans.
It was personal, as the president told a heartwarming story of a little girl with an Afro, growing up on Chicago’s North Side, watching her beloved Cubs, wearing the iconic blue cap with a little red C on it.
That girl went on to become his wife, one of the most glamorous and impactful first ladies in this country’s history.
Today’s ceremony honoring the New England Patriots fifth Super Bowl title was a complete 180 from that event.
Held on the South Lawn instead of the East Room, President Trump spoke for only six minutes before handing the podium over to Patriots owner Bob Kraft and head coach Bill Bellichick.
Surrounded by players to his aft, a Patriots helmet on a table to his right and five glistening Lombardi Trophies to his left, the president began to speak.
As with any speech he has given, dating back to the campaign, the president regurgitated facts written for him on a sheet of paper, often just naming players and, “…how great they [were].”
However, the president failed to recognize wide receiver Danny Amendola wasn’t present and after talking about his performance in the game said, “where’s Danny, way to go Danny.”
Even though this day was about honoring the Patriots, and their accomplishment, and let’s face it, whether you love New England or not, coming back from 28-3 in the third quarter is an accomplishment, President Trump managed to make the event all about him.
He spoke about how great his election victory was, again. And the most personal note the president offered wasn’t on par with Barack Obama’s story about Michelle, it was about Bill Belichick sending him a note, “…that helped him win big in a primary.”
This visit was fraught with controversy as six players said in the days following the Super Bowl, they would not attend the ceremony over personal disagreements with Trump.
The Boston Globe’s Rachel Bowers reports only 34 members of the team officially showed up to the event, marking one of the smallest visits by a championship NFL team in recent memory.
Granted, these are the New England Patriots and many players had visited the White House following the team’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks two years prior.
But the White House trip that comes with winning the Super Bowl, has become so polarizing with Democrats skipping under Republican administrations, and vice versa.
Quarterback Tom Brady did not attend the event, citing family issues, according to The Boston Globe. But when you’re golfing buddies with the POTUS, does it matter if there were, or he didn’t want the press or he simply had better things to do?
Because the Patriots won the Super Bowl following the inauguration of Donald Trump, they had no option as to who would greet them upon their arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And while a visit to the White House is normally a cherished honor by players, the new administration will likely deal with more players in other leagues deciding whether or not they feel up to being honored by a man they personally despise.
What’s going to happen following the Stanley Cup or NBA playoffs?
President Trump spent most of the campaign criticizing immigrants.
Only 20% of players in the NHL were born in the United States, according to USA Today.
Trump committed numerous faux pas’ against the African American community, notably forgetting Frederick Douglass has been dead for 122 years.
The NBA is over 80% African American, according to a 2014 Harvard study.
Chances are these athletes will likely take the high road and still attend, but it will certainly be interesting to see what happens.