Remember a couple of weeks ago how we were all up in arms about the Clemson Tigers visiting the White House and President Donald Trump serving the team burgers and fries? It was a big story then, but apparently there were even bigger things brewing behind the scenes.
According to The Root, several of Clemson’s black football players declined the visit to the nation’s capital. Only 15 of the team’s 57 black student-athletes on the roster went to the White House after beating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
There were even players who spoke with anonymity about the situation, stating some players did not attend by citing “racism” or their “disdain for Trump’s divisive politics.”
“It wasn’t like we had a team meeting or anything,” one Clemson offensive star told The Root. “Players were talking amongst each other but everyone was like: ‘I’m not going to that.'”
Although the players weren’t pressured into going, the report indicates some players only went for the fear that their absence could affect scholarship status or playing time. Of the 15 black players who attended the White House celebration, 11 of the players were freshmen or sophomores who saw limited playing time during the season.
According to Clemson, in an email sent to The Root, two-thirds of the team did attend the dinner, but admitted, however, that some did not attend for various reasons. The school really didn’t go into much detail as to why in an email statement.
“We had 76 student-athletes (approximately two-thirds of the team) make the trip to D.C. For a variety of reasons, several players were not able to adjust schedules to make the trip. On the championship game roster, 26 players had already received their bachelor’s degree, and had no planned obligations on campus beginning that week. Other student-athletes had class obligations as the spring semester began the week prior.”
— Clemson Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications Joe Galbraith, via The Root
This is not the first time a team or a group of players didn’t go to the White House. In the past few weeks, the Golden State Warriors skipped their visit to the White House and decided to visit former President Barack Obama instead.
The last time the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, Trump had just entered office and quarterback Tom Brady skipped the visit. Reports soon came out that Brady and Donald Trump were friendly with each other, but Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bündche, did not approve of her husband making the trip.
Since Donald Trump has been in the White House, several players have declined visits to Washington, D.C. This is the first time, however, that a group of college players declined to participate in the post-championship tradition.
The Tigers players who were mentioned in this story were quick to say that Clemson nor head coach Dabo Swinney held this against them, which is refreshing to know that players and coaches can agree to disagree without repercussions.
When asked if there were any regrets, one player said if President served Five Guys — another burger joint — he “might feel different.”