After The New England Patriots’ Feb. 5 Super Bowl victory, six members of the team have announced that they will not be accompanying the team on its traditional congratulatory White House visit. Meanwhile, star quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady called their choice into question, arguing the opportunity is “a privilege.” The Argus talked to a number of Wesleyan students to learn where they come down on the issue.
The Argus: Winners of the Super Bowl, NBA Title, Stanley Cup, and World Series typically visit the White House as a team after their victory. Some members of the championship-winning New England Patriots have, in recent weeks, said that they will not be joining their team in Washington later this year. Given the current extraordinary political climate, would you think less of a player who chooses to visit the White House and meet with the current administration?
Elijah Wilson ’20: I’d definitely lose respect for a player that visits the White House with Trump in office. I’ve played basketball competitively since I was 11, and one of my favorite—and the most important aspects—of the sport is the team. When you play on a team, you’re a unit. Especially in professional sports, teams always talk about togetherness and brotherhood. If these players go to the White House, they’re going against their team. It’s not just about supporting Trump, but about justifying the acts that he promotes. It’s about being a bystander to misogyny, racism, homophobia, and discrimination. Those who go to the White House are refusing to help fight injustice. They’re adding fuel to the fire.
Ale Lampietti ’19: A player who chooses to go to the White House should not be condemned for their decision. Despite the particular political climate of today, going to the White House is an honor based solely off of its history and impact on the country we have today. A political view is still a political view, whether it is right or left-winged. I do not think anyone should be thought less of because of their opinion, even if disagreed with by a large portion of the country or world. The players have the right to decide not to visit the White House, just as they have the right to visit despite the current administration.
Mubarak Sanni ’20: I’d lose respect for players who go to the White House. It’s not an excuse to go because it’s tradition or because other players do. Going to visit Trump acknowledges and even praises what he stands for. His platform goes against not only my beliefs, but my identity.
Marcus Kener ’19: The Patriots and the President have become closely linked with the support from Tom Brady, Bill Belichick ’75 and Robert Kraft. While I understand that attending the visit does not necessarily mean a player supports the President, the connection those three have created makes it necessary to clearly separate oneself. This is not the time to attend just for a photo op.
Danilo Perez-Vides ’17: I wouldn’t think less of any player who goes to the White House right now mainly because it started as a tradition long before this political climate came around. It has always been a reward for the championship team to meet officials who are normally inaccessible to most civilians, regardless of their political ideals, and not every player who has met with a President has supported their politics. I would say that I agree with the statement being made by these players who decided not to go, and anyone who disagrees should note that it is not required to attend (such as the only time Tom Brady did not attend, when he won during Obama’s presidency). But while I respect and appreciate these athletes who are using their platform to stand up for something they believe in, I don’t think it is every athlete’s responsibility to follow.
Erin Hussey ’20: I wouldn’t usually have a problem with it, but as a Bostonian and staunch Democrat, the Tom Brady/Trump relationship thoroughly upsets me. If Tom Brady were visiting Obama? Yeah, I’d support that 100 percent.
Jason Gibson ’17: I would not think anything less of a player who chooses to visit Washington after winning a title game. It’s not a political event, they are invited to celebrate their work and championship. It is every player’s right to choose whether to go to the White House or not. Both decisions can be controversial but it’s nothing new, players have chosen not to go in the past.
Eric Anthony ’20: There is a long history of Super Bowl winners not attending the presidential ceremony congratulating them. It goes back to players deciding not to meet Ronald Reagan who garnered a 39 percent approval rating among Democrats, therefore, no one should be surprised that a current president who yields anywhere from a 3 percent to 9 percent approval rating among Democrats would see resistance. Football players are football players, they are paid to play a sport, anything that they do outside of which they are paid to do should not be taken as if they have any idea what they are talking about. Jim Brown, one of the greatest players of all time, met with President Trump to discuss Brown’s foundation to help the inner-cities. This was the right move, as he is in the political realm, and simply ignoring President Trump could hurt his cause and the people he is trying to help. Simply because they are in the public eye does not mean we should hold them to a political standard. No, my opinion of any player that decides to go or not changes only when their performance changes.
Hannah Reale ’20: Absolutely. With Trump, tradition completely goes out the window. Anyone that thinks that positive attention from this president is a good thing clearly isn’t paying attention.
Faizan Razak ’20: I wouldn’t think less of a player who went to the White House because it’s an opportunity to meet someone in power. Obviously, I’d much rather that the players boycott, but visiting the White House is also a big deal for them. I’d be more upset about Tom Brady boycotting Obama than the current players visiting Trump. While my values go far from aligning with Trump’s, I don’t think that going to the White House necessarily supports him.