“The 30…the 20…the 10…touchdown!,” commentators shouted as the Louisiana State Tigers’ football team sealed the 2020 National Championship game.
Rainbow confetti fell, players shouted to the mountain tops and head coach Ed Orgeron bellowed his famous “Geaux Tigers” chant during the post-game interview. After this rousing success, only one event remained for the team, meeting the face of America: the president. In the years following President Donald Trump’s election, the visitation of championship athletes to the symbolic White House has taken a moderate decline, most likely due to athletes opposing Trump’s opinions.
Even prior to Trump’s election, athletes still refused to meet President Obama, boldly showing their political opinions. With an increasing number of examples of athletes following down this route, the question of the separation between sports and politics seems more relevant than ever.
For one, professional athletes refusing to meet the president permit their political alignment to interfere with their professional careers. No matter who occupies the Oval Office, all players should attend the meet-and-greet as a sign of respect for the position, or at least as an acknowledgment of the title. This means, regardless of political alignment (Republican or Democrat), viewpoints, race or other differentiating factors, athletes along with coaches should visit the White House.
Indeed, these glamorous athletes can only gain a high social status because of the tough decisions made by the U.S government officials. At the very least players should look at this decision through a selfish lense of what they could gain, and realize that the honor of an opportunity to visit the White House.
“I think that sports teams across all sports, and in college or professional, should make an effort to meet the President after winning a championship. All players listed and coaching staff listed on the roster should be in attendance, in order to show respect and celebrate a huge win,” NC sophomore Bobby Vandiver said.
Along with not visiting the White House, the choice of athletes to act this way comes off as a strong violation of using their fame and power to influence the political ideas of others. A perfect example of this came when Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk won the Super Bowl and refused to meet President Obama because of the president’s support for Planned Parenthood. Birk used his fame and likeness in the football and athletic world, to promote his viewpoints on a political situation.
The most famous example of improperly using this came when quarterback Colin Kaperknick took to kneeling during the national anthem in response to police brutality, on an NFL stage. Though this situation occurred with two extremely politically different candidates, both could have been handled much more maturely.
“When I go to watch an NFL game or an NBA game, I go to watch elite athletes who are the best at what they do compete. I don’t pay for someone that isn’t fully educated on a subject to help build my political ideas,” NC sophomore Eric Lu said.
Those who feel the need to promote or dispute a candidate or issue should find a platform in politics to speak on. As more and more athletes enter the world of sports and as the two political parties seem to drift apart, a plethora of debatable issues await to arise. Smart athletes will make the decision of making a bold separation between their athletic career and political ideas, which helps build up passionate fans while acting as a positive role model for younger athletes.