President Donald Trump is not as popular as he might think. This week, the University of Virginia’s men’s basketball team turned down an invitation from the White House for a visit, although to be clear, they did not cite ideological differences with the current administration as some dissenting athletes have in the past. Still, the prospect of meeting a sitting president of the United States who also happens to be Donald Trump obviously didn’t appeal enough to those who would have been coming to make it happen.
Following their recent national championship victory, the team shared a statement from their head coach Tony Bennett on Twitter:
‘We have received inquiries about a visit to the White House. With several players either pursuing pro opportunities or moving on from UVA, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together. We would have to respectfully decline an invitation.’
This actually isn’t the first time that the national champions of men’s college basketball have declined a visit to the White House. No such champion team has made the trek under Trump yet; both the 2017 and 2018 champs — meaning the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Villanova Wildcats, respectively — declined invitations, citing scheduling issues. In 2016 — the last year of President Barack Obama’s time in office — Villanova did make a White House visit happen, meaning that suggesting it’s just a coincidence is only getting harder and harder.
Trump has faced direct protests from national championship athletes before. Perhaps most notably, the Philadelphia Eagles fell out so hard and fast with the Trump team after they won the Super Bowl in 2018 that the White House themselves cancelled the team’s invitation and held an unnervingly nationalistic gathering instead. Trump has long been mad that NFL players dare peacefully protest at times during the performance of the National Anthem ahead of games, although no Eagles players had actually done so in the season prior to their Super Bowl win.
Trump had better luck with Super Bowl victors this year, when the long Trump-allied New England Patriots came out on top (again), although even still, a number of players refused to visit. Still, the success stretched back at least to this year’s college football national champions the Clemson Tigers, who Trump infamously served an ever-changing amount of “hamberders” while the federal government languished through a shutdown sparked by Trump’s refusal to approve any further funding without billions of dollars for a border wall. Because of that, catering staff were sent home and Trump decided to make light of the situation leaving hundreds of thousands of government employees unsure of their next financial steps.
It’s part of an at this point long tradition of Trump bumbling the responsibilities associated with his position. He can’t even manage an administration that’s stable enough that national college basketball champions want to come.
As most are well aware of by now, there’s a chance to soon make a dramatic change via the election of a Democratic president. The latest high-profile contender to enter the fray is former Vice President Joe Biden, who sits atop most polls.
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