President Trump creates Pittsburgh Penguins bit players in his enlightenment wars

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SportsPulse: Trysta Krick speaks with USA TODAY Sports contributor Nancy Armour about Vice President Mike Pence’s argumentative exit from an NFL diversion this past weekend.
USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Trump welcomed a Pittsburgh Penguins to a White House Tuesday. He praised a Pens for winning a Stanley Cup again. He joked that maybe co-owner Ron Burkle could renegotiate NAFTA. Trump teased co-owner Mario Lemieux, luminary of yesteryear, that maybe Sidney Crosby is on a fork of outdoing his derring-do.

The record carried a brash feel of so many of these presidential champion events over a years — Hail to a Chief meets accost associate good met — solely for a unavoidable, tacit context of Trump’s fight of difference with other athletes. That expel a Pens as props: reluctant characters in a passion play of a president’s making.

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Last month, Trump spoke during a convene in Alabama where he pounded NFL players who criticism secular misapplication by holding a knee during a inhabitant anthem. The same weekend, he rescinded a White House invitation to a NBA champion Golden State Warriors after Steph Curry balked during a idea, an sell that done Trump demeanour like some testy propagandize child disinviting a intensity promenade date who is (you’ll forgive a expression) out of his league.

That put a Penguins between a stone and a Trump place. They’d warranted their invitation to a White House by winning a Stanley Cup. They’d left to President Obama’s White House for winning a Cup a year progressing though so most as a spot of controversy. Now, unfairly, they’d get criticized possibly approach — for going or not going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a travel named for their state.

Then, over a weekend, lest a NFL anger die down, Vice President Mike Pence walked out on a game in Indianapolis between a Colts and San Francisco 49ers after roughly twin dozen 49ers kneeled during a anthem, as it was all though certain some would. That means Pence came to a diversion for a demonstrate purpose of walking away, like Groucho Marx singing Hello, we Must Be Going, though though a giggle lines.

And that’s what a Penguins walked into Tuesday, a White House picking fights with pro athletes in other leagues. Here, Trump seemed to say, are pro athletes who do not hook a knee when a anthem plays — and who do not frustrate during pity a lectern with him. Here, a boss seemed to say, are athletes who are not sons of bitches.

None of that was pronounced explicitly, of course. But a lectern was filled with white hockey players conference regard from a boss who is rarely vicious of so many African American athletes.

The Penguins are a potpourri of Canadians, Americans, Swedes and Finns. (And don’t forget Evgeni Malkin, who is not a initial Russian to be greeted tenderly in Trump’s White House.) Ryan Reaves, a Pens’ usually black player, was performed in a offseason so he wasn’t authorised for Tuesday’s fete. But Reaves, a twin citizen of a U.S. and Canada, told a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette final month that he would not have attended even if he could have: “I don’t determine with certain things that (Trump) stands for or he says.”

The NFL players who take a knee to criticism secular misapplication are mostly African American, as are Golden State’s Warriors. Trump insists his justification with veteran athletes has zero to do with race. The avowal flies in a face of a evidence.

The tradition of championship teams visiting a White House began in antebellum days though reached full flower during a Reagan era. The Gipper’s balmy persona summoned moments of complete charm. New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson dumped a cooler of popcorn on him in 1986, mimicking a Gatorade shower. Reagan tossed a ideal pass to far-reaching receiver Ricky Sanders of Washington’s NFL group in 1987. Hard to suppose an African American contestant playfully creation happy with this boss like that.

When he pulled out of an general meridian accord, Trump pronounced he was inaugurated to paint Pittsburgh, not Paris. Maybe so, though he did not paint a Steel City good on Tuesday. Oh, Trump pronounced a right things on a podium. But he’d put a Pens in a no-win situation. They’d come as champions. But for all a back-slapping and large smiles underneath lustrous chandeliers in a East Room, they left as bit players in Trump’s everlasting enlightenment wars.

Send this boss to a chastisement box, nonetheless twin mins for high adhering (and high dudgeon) don’t seem like scarcely enough. Make it a diversion misconduct.

The Penguins deserved better. We all do.

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