The traditional visit of the champion of American football to the official residence of the president is on the line for political concerns
Philadelphia Eagles, current NFL champion after winning the victory on February 4 in the Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots, will not go next June 5 with his full team to the traditional visit of the champion to the White House. Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and Torrey Smith assured that they will not attend the visit to the official presidential residence for political reasons. It is expected that more players also decline the invitation.
The traditional activity of the reigning team of the National Football League (NFL) visiting the White House has been fraught with tension since 2017 by protests of different African-American players against the latent racism in the United States. But how did this tension arise?
Protesting on your knees
The violence generated by racism has been increasing in the USA for several years, but it was in 2016 when it reached a peak in American sports on behalf of the then San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. The African-American player did not get up when he started the US national anthem in a symbol of protest. "I'm not going to stand up and show pride in the flag of a country that oppresses people of color. For me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish for me to look the other way", said Kaepernick, generating a national controversy.
The season ended but the protests continued in 2017. Several African-American players, coaches and managers of different NFL teams imitated Kaepernick's gesture, as several did not get up from their seats and others got on their knees to protest the waves of violence racial in North America. Given this dynamic President Donald Trump attacked them. "It's a total lack of respect for our heritage, a total lack of respect for everything we stand for", Trump said in September 2017 during a speech in Alabama.
The situation worsened after the president used stronger words to suggest that people who did not get up while the national anthem sounded were fired. "Would not you like the owners of one of these NFL, to see that someone lacks respect for our flag, say: 'Get that son of a b**** out of the court right now: he's fired'? ", Affirmed Trump in the same speech in Alabama.
However, the protests continued thanks to the Black Matter Lives movement and even extended to other sports. Finally the season culminated and the Philadelphia Eagles were crowned champions of this chaotic football season in February 2018, but the protests are still takinf place in this and several teams of the NFL.
Tension in the White House
The constant protests and the firm disapproval of these by the US President, Donald Trump, have made the traditional visit of the NFL champions to the White House an act of high tension and rejection by several winning players.
New England Patriots was the champion of the 2016 season and received the invitation from the White House to take place in April 2017, however in that occasion there were only 37 players out of the 50 who are usually present at the traditional visit. Several players did not attend the event because they disagreed with several political positions of President Trump.
The Philadelphia Eagles, NFL champions in the 2017 season, were invited by the White House for the traditional visit on June 5, but several players confirmed their absence at the event since they became champions in February 2018. "No, I personally anticipate that I will not attend", said African-American Malcolm Jenkins in an interview with CNN's New Day. "No, I'm not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?", defender Chris Long stated for the same news outlet.
The African-American receiver Torrey Smith will not attend either, and he disapproved of Trump's constant attacks on his form of protest. "We're not protesting against the anthem, we're protesting during the anthem", Smith said. The tension in the traditional visit will be high, and due to this situation the sport, especially the NFL, will be gaining more and more political prominence in the US.
LatinAmerican Post | Javier Aldana
Translated from "Tensión en la NFL: varios jugadores de los campeones Philadelphia Eagles no visitarán la Casa Blanca"