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Penguins confirm visit to White House

With a statement on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins state they will visit the White House and President Donald Trump.

News: Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins-White House Visit Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, let’s acknowledge that sports and politics are a very touchy subject for many. But they often collide, and have now, making a newsworthy item. Civility on the internet for matters like these are rarely common, but we remind you the community guidelines to be good to each other and disagree with respect and without being disagreeable or ugly.


The Pittsburgh Penguins made headlines on Sunday morning, releasing a statement re-iterating that they have accepted an invite from the White House, as is customary for champions to visit the President.

The Pittsburgh Penguins respect the institution of the Office of the President, and the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House. We attended White House ceremonies after previous championships – touring the historic building and visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama – and have accepted an invitation to attend again this year.

Any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.

The timing of this announcement, to be frank, is poor. There is a firestorm around the Golden State Warriors and their cancelled visit to the President, as well as controversey surrounding NFL athletes and protests and Presidential comments.

However, the Pens announced today what their executives have said all along.

Take team President and CEO David Morehouse, who said in a statement back in June a day after the team won the Stanley Cup:

“The Pittsburgh Penguins would never turn down a visit to the White House and, if invited, we would go as a team”

This was echoed by co-owner Ron Burkle who rarely does press but gave an interview to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in July, including this section about his thoughts on the matter.

Burkle has known President Trump for years, but shares few, if any, policy positions with him.

Nonetheless, he confirmed that he will not hesitate to accompany the Penguins to the White House, assuming they are invited in recognition of their latest championship.

“I think it’s a tradition that should be honored, first and foremost,” Burkle said. “There’s a lot of emotion around the president. There’s a lot of negativity, and there’s a lot of passion. But it is the president, it is the White House.

“If you want to protest, you can protest. If you want to be unhappy, you can be unhappy. If you want to voice your opinion, you can voice your opinion. But I, personally, don’t think this is the stage to do it on.

“It’s an honor to go there. It’s a moment a lot of people won’t ever get again. I hope we win again, but you don’t take it for granted that you get to go to the White House. … Every time I go there, it’s an amazing thing. I don’t think that who the occupant is should determine whether the team goes to the White House.”

Interestingly enough, Morehouse worked in the Bill Clinton administration, and on Al Gore and John Kerry’s Presidential campaigns. Burkle is (was?) a well-known friend of the Clintons and a clear long-time supporter of progressive causes with his fundraising and donating efforts. Almost certainly they have put personal politics aside in the Penguins repeated organizational commitment to visit the White House this year.

In this instance, the Penguins are attempting to toe a line of being non-political, in one of the most politically charged times in recent memory. Whether or not you personally feel that is possible or a good or bad idea is another matter. And it’s certainly a matter you have every right to have an opinion on- good, bad or indifferent.

Certainly after recent controversies with professional sports and the President, the Penguins must have been swamped with inquiries about their position and plans to feel the need to make a statement. But in light of recent events and controversies, the statement this morning didn’t say anything new, and only added fuel to an already out of control fire, and for no apparent good reason.

Anyone paying attention already knew the top brass of the team had separated politics from sports with their professional decision to go to the White House as a professional sports team. Unfortunately, in a charged and ever-changing world, it’s become about impossible for the Penguins to have such a balancing act.

In the past, Tim Thomas decided not to go to the White House, so precedent is available to any member of the team that doesn’t want to go. Time will tell if any of the Penguins decide to exercise their personal right not to go.


Again, this is a charged issue, and while this is a sports blog, remember it’s a Penguins blog and we’re all Pens fans, and mostly all Americans too (aside from our great international friends that we also love and welcome). The issues of sports and politics have collided, perhaps inseparably, but we still will plead for some semblance of respect for one another in your comments below. You’re free to express yourself, but remember that community guidelines are in effect and will be enforced, especially upon personal attacks. Be good to each other.