NEW YORK (CNN) — The Pittsburgh Penguins announced in a statement Sunday (Sept. 24) morning that the team would visit the White House following its 2016-17 Stanley Cup title:
“The Pittsburgh Penguins respect the institution of the Office of the President, and the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House. We attended White House ceremonies after previous championships—touring the historic building and visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama—and have accepted an invitation to attend again this year.
“Any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.”
President Donald Trump tweeted his excitement about the Penguins’ visit:
The statement came a day after the president revoked the Golden State Warriors invitation to the White House:
Steph Curry had said Friday (Sept. 22) he would vote against visiting the White House. On Saturday, he said his stance had been “cemented” by Trump’s comments, per ESPN.com:
“My stance is the same as it was [Friday]. And even kind of cemented even further about how things in our country are going, especially with [Trump] representing us in a very damaging way. I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals rather than others. I have an idea of why, but it’s kind of beneath a leader of a country to go that route. That’s not what leaders do.”
Head coach Steve Kerr also shared his thoughts on the matter:
“We would, in normal times, very easily be able to set aside political differences and go visit and have a great time. That’ll be awesome. But these are not ordinary times. Probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess, since Vietnam.
“Because of the differences that exist in the country, the president made it really, really difficult for us to honor that institution. Our differences in terms of our team and organization’s values are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion, civil discourse and dignity. It’s hard for us. Every day we’re seeing the things he’s saying.”
Finally, the Warriors as an organization issued a statement:
The New England Patriots had visited the White House this year after their Super Bowl win, but the relationship between Trump and the NFL at large was damaged Saturday (Sept 23) after the president stated any players taking a knee or protesting during the national anthem should be removed from the field or even fired by the team’s owner.
NFL teams and players widely condemned those remarks, calling into question whether this season’s Super Bowl winner will visit the White House or skip the ceremony altogether.