The tradition started months after the Civil War, when President Andrew Johnson had the Brooklyn Atlantic baseball team at the White House after they won a baseball game on the White House lawn in 1865.
Then, it continued when Calvin Coolidge invited the Washington Senators to the White House in 1925, the year after they won the World Series. And it's continued for the past 87 years with the presidential administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all inviting championship teams to the White House for a celebration.
Now, it's the Obama administration that has taken over that duty. Most recently, one of the teams honored was the Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins. And while most of the Bruins were at the White House being honored, their starting goalie, Tim Thomas, sat at home not willing to join his team.
Due to his difference of political opinion from Obama, Thomas refused to go to the White House with his teammates.
According to the Big Government website, Thomas is a devout member of the Tea Party movement and a staunch Republican. Now given that Obama is a Democrat, the fact that he isn't keen on Obama is understandable.
What I don't understand at all, though, is why in the world Thomas would refuse to go to the White House. The fact that he didn't show up is beyond disrespectful to both Obama and his teammates, and completely unprofessional.
First of all, it is not Obama who invites the teams, it is the Office of the President which is separate from Obama himself and the Democratic party. Next, while this country was built on political protests and right to free speech, to protest an act completely separate from the political realm makes Thomas look ignorant.
No matter what team wins, the president has always welcomed the champions team to the White House; it is a part of winning and it comes with the honor of being a champion.
Refusing to go to the White House because of political differences is nothing new in the past few years. It made big news awhile back when Obama hosted NASCAR drivers in the White House. Drivers such as Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart didn't attend because of their difference in viewpoint with the president.
Fans of the Chicago Bears were taken aback when Dan Hampton stayed in Chicago, while the rest of the 1985 Bears were being honored by Obama, because of a difference in opinion with the president. In Pittsburgh, James Harrison of the Steelers didn't visit President Bush in the White House after his 2006 Super Bowl win, nor did he shake hands with President Obama after his 2009 Super Bowl win.
All of those men, while trying to make a political statement, make themselves look soft and downright selfish. In situations like these, politics aren't the most important thing. While you have all the right in the world to make a political statement, making it this way is not intelligent.
There's a time and a place.
Declining an invitation to meet one of the most powerful men on the planet, with your team, is neither the time nor place.
You go, accept the honor, take a bow and support your teammates because, ultimately, you wouldn't be there without them. You might not like the guy, but you can be a gentleman about it and accept the high honor that he is giving you.
Ditching your coaches and teammates speaks volumes about who you really are.
That act of going to the White House as a champion is etched into sports history. Since after the Civil War, teams have had the honor of visiting with the President of the United States.
Sports are defined by their history, so by not joining your team at the White House, all you're doing is being disrespectful to it.