Ever since Trump moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, sports teams have debated whether to visit him after winning championships. Some, like the Warriors, have shunned him entirely, choosing to visit both Obama and the African American History Museum instead.
Last year the Pittsburgh Penguins made their trip to the White House, which didn’t surprise many as they’re a hockey team and hockey has its own issues with race and racism. So when it was time for the Washington Capitals, many probably didn’t think twice that the team would make the trip.
But, surprisingly, some have decided to stay home rather than see Trump.
Caps’ forward Brett Connolly, and right wing Devante Smith-Pelly, had already declined the invitation publicly, but now goalie Braden Holtby has decided he’s won’t be attending either. He wasn’t shy about discussing it, letting everyone know he was raised better than what exists in the White House.
Caps goalie Braden Holtby talks with the media prior to tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild. #ALLCAPS #CapsWild https://t.co/LPX7pQ2suG
“My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into,” said Holtby to reporters. “You’re asked to choose what side you’re on, and I think it’s pretty clear what side I’m on. I believe that this is the right decision for myself and my family.”
Holtby is no stranger to standing up for what’s right. According to the Washington Post, the goalie has marched in the city’s Pride Parade, served as the team’s “You Can Play” ambassador and spoke at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner.
“In the end, I never really came up with a situation where I’d feel comfortable going,” Holtby stated. “But the toughest part is I’ve always tried to live my life and my career that the team sticks together. So, that’s probably the toughest part, but that’s just the way the world is. Sometimes you’re forced into situations where you have to stick by what you believe.
“But in the end, I think there’s more important things I can do in the future. Trying to make a stand this way, I don’t think it does the most in terms of creating change. In the future, I just want to stick by what I believe in and trying to push toward a world where people are created equal.”
Holtby’s stand supports that of his two teammates who also declined the invite. Smith-Pelly, who was waived in February but was part of the team when they won their championship, said back in 2018 he won’t go.
“The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist,” said Smith-Pelly in an interview with Postmedia. “Some of the things he’s said are pretty gross. I’m not too into politics, so I don’t know all his other views, but his rhetoric I definitely don’t agree with.
While the rest of the team will be attending, it appears that their coach, Todd Reirden, supports his player’s decisions, regardless of what they are.
“I speak personally on this one to start with. I think it’s an amazing opportunity. Something for the last five years you drive to the rink, you see this, you hear about it, you think about it. I was really excited about the invitation and will be going and be happy to be going.” said the Capitals’ coach. “In that respect, I get it. I understand our players and their decisions, and I respect it. They’re allowed to make their own decisions. It’s important that we support them in whatever decision that they make.”
In respect to human rights, decency, morals, ethics and basic civility, these three players are standing up for the right thing.