Opinion: Turning down a chance to talk to a president is counterproductive

(MGN Online)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Dialogue. Unfortunately, it is something that is being lost in our country.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl this last Sunday. It was a great game, which was universally praised as being entertaining and hard fought.

It is what happened after the game which gave me pause. Three players from the Eagles have already said that they would not visit the White House to celebrate, if invited. The players to make the public announcement are defensive end Chris Long, safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith.

Winning sports teams have been going to the White House all the way back to the Andrew Johnson administration. President Johnson invited the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Washington Nationals, a precursor of today’s team, to celebrate their seasons in 1865.

Athletes not accepting the invitations also has a history, starting when Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics elected to not go see President Reagan in 1984. Among others who have refused to attend have been James Harrison of the Steelers who did not visit with either George W. Bush or Barack Obama in the White House and Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas who skipped the 2012 ceremony with President Obama.

I asked Chris Long of the Eagles why, if he disagrees with the president, he wouldn’t want the opportunity to express that in person. Long responded that he already knows the answer for the question he would ask. Unless he’s a psychic, how’s that even possible?

Players have turned down invitations to the White House for decades, from both Republican and Democrat presidents.

Some have said that the visits are not worthwhile since they are ceremonial. While ceremony is a big part of it, I know firsthand that athletes get real time with the president. Time that would be enough to express disagreement or ask a question.

As far as this president, I am confident that if the Eagles players actually did meet him face to face and had a conversation, they would have a positive interaction with President Trump.

Here is the bottom line: disagreement is good. It is a key to a functioning democracy. Dialogue,however, is another key. Turning down an opportunity to meet the President is, in my opinion, a counterproductive way to make a political point.

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