Snubbing the President Is Not Controversial

I know I’m a little late on this, but I have been thinking on it for a couple of days and I had to say something.

Recently, members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, arguably the greatest football team in NFL history due to their undefeated season, were honored at a special ceremony at the White House for their on field achievement. This is considered a long overdue visit, since in 1973 they couldn’t visit then President Richard Nixon due to the Watergate scandal.

Three of those Dolphins – Hall of Fame center Jim Langer, Bob Kuechenberg and Manny Fernandez turned down that invitation and declared that they would not be attending due to gripes with the President’s policies.

“…Mom said that if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don’t say anything. I don’t have anything good to say about someone,” said Kuechenberg, presumably referring to Obama.

Jim Langer stated, “We’ve got some real moral compass issues in Washington. I don’t want to be in a room with those people and pretend I’m having a good time. I can’t do that. If that [angers] people, so be it”.

These members were subsequently bashed in the press for declining the White House’s invitation. Many people stated that these Dolphins turned their decision into a political statement and put their own political views ahead of their teammates and the time-honored tradition. Others believed that this act was rude and immature – that no matter if you agree or disagree with the President’s policies you shouldn’t refuse the invitation just because he happens to be President.

What I am asking is, so what if they didn’t go?

Is the President some King that wasn’t appointed office due to popular vote? Did grandstanding the President have any effect at all to the country or to any of their teammates? Did the players cross their arms and stomp away while complaining like toddlers? The answer is no.

This shouldn’t be a controversy. These players have a right to attend or not attend a ceremony and express their views as they see fit. It would be an entirely different thing if these players expressed their dissent in a disrespectful manner, but they didn’t. Manny Fernandez stated that although his views were “diametrically” opposed to the President’s views, he still wished that everyone who decided to go on the trip enjoyed it. The other players that boycotted weren’t impolite either.

I believe that a large reason the media turned this into a controversy is because these players are conservative and that conservative members of Congress are seen as obstructionists in the current partisan political atmosphere. But we can’t forget that historically, conservatives are not the only people to turn down requests to be honored or visit the White House.

US women’s soccer coach, Pia Sundhage, refused a personal audience with then President George W. Bush after she lead the team to Gold in the Beijing Olympics. Pittsburg Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Red Sox pitcher Manny Ramirez also declined to visit Bush.

Their personal decision to decline the offer wasn’t lazy, disrespectful to the country or its’ fellow citizens – it was merely a choice. The world will keep spinning and liberals as well as other people should get over.

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