It was way back in 1865 when Andrew Jackson welcomed the Brooklyn Athletics and Washington Nationals to visit of the White House but the tradition of championship teams visiting regularly didn’t begin until President Ronald Reagan. He instituted the regular invitation to teams from all the major professional and college sports.
Now the visit includes about a dozen such teams but, sadly, like everything that comes into near proximity to the former swamp that is Washington D.C., it has become tainted by politics and partisan nonsense. In addition, many of the professional athletes who are invited have busy off-season schedules based on promotional contracts that make it difficult to arrange a date acceptable to all.
Now President Trump has uninvited at least Stephen Curry and perhaps the entire NBA Champion Golden State Warriors team because they wanted to discuss whether they would attend or not.
I’m a huge sports fan. I would say that it is a rare day indeed that I’m not checking on scores or watching one event or another. I think sport brings out the very best in us in diametric contrast with political divide which engenders the worst and most ugly. When I watch that which I hold in such high esteem being pulled into the vicious and nasty miasma that is politics, I must come to the conclusion that it’s simply time to end the visit to the White House altogether.
I’m saddened by this conclusion. I actually think sports is the best way to bridge divides. We root for our team with all our hearts but when they lose, we move on. We momentarily despise the fans of the other team, of the victorious champions, but we know our day of glory will eventually arrive. Even a St. Louis Blues fan like myself hopes against hope that someday it will be me with the smile on my face as the Stanley Cup circles the rink in the hands of my team.
Every single Chicago Cubs fans waited their entire life to see such a moment and as much as this St. Louis Cardinals fan hated to see the curse finally lifted, I get their joy. It’s an integral part of sport that the game ends and new one begins, that a season finishes and we put away our banners until next year. There are always champions and non-champions but everyone who participates, everyone who cheers their team with passion and love, is a winner in the end. The highest peaks of joy and the lowest valleys of despair are quickly forgotten as we move on with our lives.
We congratulate the winner when we are the loser. We give credit to the loser and tell them well-played when we are the winner. We somehow understand that doing our best is integral to being a decent human being. Sport brings this out in both the competitors and the spectators, in both the winner and the loser. We are all better for having played sport and having watched sport played.
Let’s stop sullying such a beautiful thing with political rhetoric.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.