One of the biggest events in sports this past week — other than the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship win — was the Philadelphia Eagles’ disinvitation to the White House on June 4th.
According to a White House press statement released the next day, the Eagles failed to send in the expected number of players in an alleged decision to “abandon their fans." The WH statement concluded with the announcement of a vague “patriotic celebration” to occur on the South Lawn, in lieu of the Eagles’ visit.
Trump then took to Twitter to follow up on the White House statement. In his tweet, he announced the cancellation of the championship visit and also alluded to the Eagles protesting the national anthem.
Despite having every right to do so, the Eagles had not knelt during the national anthem at any point in the season. Only one player, Ron Brooks, was ever observed kneeling during the anthem. However, Brooks was part of neither the Eagles’ Superbowl nor the regular lineup this year.
Thus, the Eagles’ disinvitation was not a result of the team’s decision to observe or not observe the national anthem. Rather, the cancellation appears to have been Trump’s last-minute move to save face when it was determined that fewer than ten players would attend the event — the dwindling guest list was missing players Chris Long, Malcolm Jenkins, and potentially star quarterback Carson Wentz.
But is this anything new? For the 153-year-long tradition of inviting national champions to the White House, yes, but for Trump, certainly not. In 2017, Trump personally disinvited the Golden State Warriors from the White House because of Stephen Curry’s “hesitation” to show face. This year, Trump also took it upon himself to “pre-disinvite” both the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers before either took home the 2018 ring.
Fortunately, none of the disinvited teams seem to have been insulted by Trump’s cancellations, with James stating “I know whoever wins...no one wants an invite,” and the Eagles declining to comment in their follow-up statement. After all, Trump’s rescinding of sports team visits diminishes in magnitude when one considers that he has threatened to cancel and has actually canceled meetings with entire sovereign nations.
The calling-off of the event seems to be Trump’s way of making sure the metaphorical door hits the Eagles on their way out (although they never entered it in the first place). This is quite characteristic of the President, who is not known to take criticism well. From labelling all of his opponents as “haters,” to addressing foreign prime ministers by their first names, Trump’s recent actions only add to his growing repertoire of political controversies.
Trump’s disinvitation of the Eagles is likely one of the first of many cancellations to come. As more players join the national anthem protests, we should definitely expect to see more NFL teams turned away by the White House. Luckily for us, Trump does not have much say in football.
JENNIFER LEE is a College sophomore from Fairfax, Va. studying economics. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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