winning its historic women’s basketball national championship, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks face the same decision as many other national champions, namely whether or not they will accept an invitation to visit Donald Trump’s White House.
But, as far as Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley is concerned, her team will accept that invitation because “it’s what national champions do.”
Staley, an American basketball Hall of Famer and three-time Olympian, made it clear that if her team is invited to the White House she intends to accept the offer.
“I’ve got options now. Yeah, I’m going to the White House,” she told the Associated Press. “It’s what it stands for. It’s what national champions do. We’ll go to the White House.”
Staley’s last visit to the White House was during George W. Bush’s first term in 2004, when she was a member of the U.S. Olympic team.
One of Staley’s players also expressed an interest in going to the White House.
“I’ve never really been to the White House. It should be exciting to go with this group of girls,” South Carolina’s star player A’ja Wilson said. “We’re going to have fun, so I’m excited. Honestly, I’m just going to go and enjoy the moment, just take it all in. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so why not enjoy it?”
The decision of whether to accept an invitation to the White House has been a hot topic among sports leagues, many of which have been radicalized by black lives matter-styled politics. Last December, for instance, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made to politicize such visits, saying that teams “miss an opportunity” not to politicize their invitation.
Silver is not alone. With the New England Patriots Super Bowl win, several team members decided to skip their team’s visit to the White House, some citing their dislike of President Trump.
Other college teams have spoken on the topic as well. North Carolina Tar Heels Basketball Coach Roy Williams, for one, said he’d have to carefully consider any visits to the Trump White House.
Many in sports media have also discussed White House visits in the era of Trump. Just last year, ESPN’s Jalen Rose said it was obvious that many players would decide to skip visits to the White House occupied by the “really divisive” President Trump.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.