The Los Angeles Kings visited the White House on Tuesday to be recognized for their 2011-2012 Stanley Cup title, and by all accounts it appears all members of the team were able to attend. As you know, there is a growing list of athletes — most notably former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas — who, because of personal/political reasons, have refused to travel to the White House with their team to meet the president.
For the most part, there are two sides to the debate. On one side, you have people who feel that athletes are given a forum most of us do not have and that they should use it to stand up for their political beliefs. On the other side, you have people who feel that it is disrespectful to your team and your country to refuse such a rare honor. After Tuesday, we know where Kings forward Dustin Penner stands.
After careful consideration I’ve decided not to visit the White House today for political reasons LOL JK I’m not an idiot!Free trip? I’m in!
— Dustin Penner (@Dustinpenner25) March 26, 2013
If you ask me, he’s right. Everyone is entitled to their own political opinion, but going to the White House to be recognized for winning a championship does not mean you support the president. It’s a tradition and something that players should experience with their teammates. You can still take a handshake from Barack Obama and vote Republican. In my opinion, athletes should understand that and cast their personal beliefs aside.