A columnist for USA Today Sports has suggested that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees should put a halt to athletes visiting the Trump White House, until after the 2020 presidential election.
In her August 22 article, columnist Christine Brennan said that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee needs to end the visits to the Trump White House because the president has turned every sports visit into a “self-aggrandizing fiasco.”
Trump’s record on White House visits by sports teams is by now well known. He has taken one of the most benign slices of Americana and turned it into a self-aggrandizing fiasco. He makes decisions about which teams can come to the White House and which ones can’t based on personal slights and preposterous misinformation. Athletes who should simply be allowed to celebrate their achievements become pawns in Trump’s cutthroat Washington chess match.
Brennan insisted that Trump will “crave a visit by several hundred U.S. athletes” as the 2020 campaign season begins to wind down.
“There’s no telling how he might manipulate the moment for his purposes. One can imagine him using Olympians and Paralympians as props for a final election ad,” Brennan carped.
The columnist then went on to regurgitate the lie that President Trump “mocked” a disabled person.
[My bold] “Some of these athletes have understandably and courageously spoken out against Trump, a man who has used racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic language, has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has mocked a disabled person, among his many insults and taunts,” she wrote.
President Trump never made fun of a person’s disability. He did make fun of a reporter who happens to have a degenerative nerve condition, but Trump did not mock that disability.
Brennan also attacked Trump for engaging in a Twitter attack on U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe while she was playing overseas in the Women’s world Cup. Though, Brennan declined to note that Rapinoe started the attacks first and Trump was just responding.
In the end, Brennan insists that fights with Trump are a distraction that will only hurt our American Olympians. And so, the committee should summarily cancel any visits to clear the decks for the athletes to focus on their sport.
Visits to Trump’s White House and the sagas they inevitably produce are the last thing Olympians should have to worry about in the midst of the biggest competition of their lives. Take the White House out of the equation until after the election, then, win or lose, give Trump a chance to host whoever wants to show up later in November, or in December.
With her final paragraph, Brennan also suggested that the committees only allow athletes to visit the White House after the 2020 election even if Trump loses his bid for re-election.
Or, if there’s a new president, wait until he or she is inaugurated in January, then invite the Olympians to stop by for a visit. While presidents come and go, the White House will always be there, ready to welcome the most deserving guests.
The president did host athletes from the U.S. Olympic team at the White House, in April of last year.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.