Media Focus on Trump Era Sports Celebration Boycotts, Ignore Athletes Who Boycotted In Past

January 23rd, 2019 10:00 AM

The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Donald Trump at the White House Feb. 15, prompting CNN and Newsweek writers to politicize the event and intimate that the team shouldn't show up. It's a "Big Decision in Beantown," reads the CNN headline. The Newsweek report focused heavily on Trump-era no-shows while ignoring athlete boycotts during previous administrations.

Boston's manager, Puerto Rican native Alex Cora (seen at left in above photo), is the main subject of both stories. After Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in 2017, Cora took exception to President Trump's remarks about how many people actually died in his native territory. Newsweek and CNN report he is wavering on going and say that if he does not go it could discourage other team members from attending. Or so Newsweek and CNN can only hope.

Boston is making attendance voluntary, "meaning any players who don't want to share a stage with Trump — or simply don't want to visit the White House — don't have to come," writes CNN political writer Ben Geldon. "But the bigger focus is on Cora, who is wavering as the planned visit approaches. Cora is wildly popular back home in Puerto Rico, and makes no secret he thinks the President was slow to help after Hurricane Maria and, in Cora's view, is still not doing enough."

A team official told CNN that just a few players are expected to skip the trip to Washington. CNN adds: "The official noted many Sox players are eager to make the trip, including players who have political disagreements with the President but value the White House recognition of their achievement. The wild card, the official conceded, is Cora. The number not coming could spike if the well-liked manager decides to boycott."

CNN reported on a way for the whole team to boycott Trump. "Team management went on the record this weekend saying it would be inappropriate for the team to be celebrating at the White House if federal workers are still going without a paycheck," Geldon writes.

Newsweek's Dan Cancian, who a couple months ago mocked Brent Musburger for joking about U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren's so-called Native American heritage, went right for the political jugular. He says the Red Sox could skip the D.C. event because of Trump's policies.

Cancian's story includes a Cora quote from Thursday's Baseball Writers' Association of America event in Boston: "We'll see what happens. There's a lot of stuff going on right now as far as the government and the shutdown and all that. If I go, I'll represent Puerto Rico the right way.” Whatever way that is, it's unclear.

The Newsweek writer rehashed the tired controversies — that sports media can't let go of — between Trump and other recent sports champions who have not visited the White House during the past two years. "Sports champions’ visits to the White House have become a thorny political issue ever since Trump was elected in 2016," writes Cancian, who ignored mention of no-shows during the Obama, Clinton and Bush administrations.

In 2018, some league champions dominated by progressive stars exchanged social media barbs with the president and did not visit the White House. Trump canceled the 2018 Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles’ visit because only a few people were planning to attend. NBA players Stephen Curry and LeBron James and Washington Capitals hockey players Devante Smith and Brett Connolly all said they would not go to the White House. Cancian seems to want it both ways, plugging teams that snubbed Trump, and complaining that the Capitals never received an invitation.

Yahoo's Liz Roscher says the Red Sox might skip going to the White House and it's not political, "at least, not in the way people would think." Roscher says Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said Saturday that the team is likely to skip the visit because of the government shutdown.

Boston players Chris Sale, Mitch Moreland, Rick Porcello, and Matt Barnes announced they will attend if the visit happens, but this story isn't getting much traction from media obsessed with possible no-shows.