By Daniel Brown

It is a tradition in the United States to visit the White House after a collegiate or professional team has won a championship. For those visits, politics are put aside and the day is shifted toward acknowledging the accomplishments of your team. The New England Patriots will soon make their visit after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. Yet, this carries much more animosity than previous visits.

In the previous weeks, a lot of Americans have shared their thoughts about our newly elected President Donald Trump. His controversial executive orders have stirred up protests across the country on a day to day basis. I will be the first to admit that I am not a supporter of President Trump—which is a painful title to even write out. While I, and many others, believe that he has a serious disregard for the well-being of all Americans, this is not what I want to talk about. What I want to address is the disregard that players show when they decide to no show on their day of celebration.

As soon as the dust settled from their illustrious win, Martellus Bennet and Devin McCourty stated they would not be attending their visit to the White House. Since then, other players including James White, have said the same. Now, I for one believe that you should stand up for what you believe in, no matter the situation. However, I also believe that you show authority figures the respect they deserve, no matter the situation.

Winning a championship is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and to win one that will be commended by our current President is the ultimate honor. As I said, it is a day that politics are put aside and your team, keyword being team, is recognized. Just as it took a team effort to win a championship, it takes a team effort to straighten up and do what is asked of you, because that is what the team does. Ironically, players who work under Bill Belicheck seem to think they are a step above the team, which they know is not part of his philosophy.

Players deciding not to visit this year fall under a huge microscope due to the tensions and conflicts brought up on a day to day basis in today’s political climate. Just two years ago, Tom Brady skipped out on the Patriot’s day of celebration with President Obama due to “prior engagements”. Three years prior to that, in 2011, Bruins’ goalie Tim Thomas skipped their visit because he simply did not like President Obama. I found this appalling because these are supposed to be your team leaders who set examples for everybody else. As much as I love Brady, I highly doubt whatever he was doing that day demanded he miss a meeting with the President of the United States. Same goes for Tim Thomas. I cannot imagine he was the only person on the Bruins whose political beliefs were not the same as President Obama’s.

My argument is that no matter who our sitting President may be, they are taking the time out of their day, multiple times a year, to acknowledge the success your team has achieved. A President has never excluded a player because they do not like them, they do what is right and treat the team as an equal, because that is what they are expected to do. So to Martellus Bennett, James White, Devin McCourty, and whoever else may skip out on their day, think twice about it. You are given the opportunity of a lifetime, and to miss out due to your own thoughts and beliefs not only reflects upon you, but on your team and New England as a whole.