Examining Trump’s role in the world of sports

By Nick Forbes Asst. sports editor

Courtesy of Sports Information

Sports Shots

96. That is roughly the number of sports teams that have visited the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration. This includes the champions of the four major sports in America, as well as college teams and various other athletes.

1981. The year when team visits to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue officially became a tradition thanks to avid sports fan, Ronald Reagan. Or even further back to 1865, when President Andrew Johnson welcomed amateur baseball clubs the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals to the White House.

Sports and politics have grown increasingly close over the past few decades. In fact, we’ve seen sports have a growingly prominent role in nearly every aspect of American life.

With an ever-expanding national platform, athletes have taken advantage of their celebrity, using that platform to take stands, promote ideas and demonstrate protests that inevitably start hard conversations in America.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, Muhammad Ali tearing up his draft card, the St. Louis Rams running out of the tunnel with the “hands up, don’t shoot,” gesture are among many of the sports protests that have sparked significant change in our country.

Athletes have turned down invitations to the White House too. Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk did not attend the team’s visit after their Super Bowl win because he disagreed with Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood.

However, team visits to the White House show that some of the most famous men and women in America stand behind our president.

In a way, it humanizes the president—a man who is in the critical eye of the public 24/7. But now we enter a new era. The era of President Donald Trump.

And like much of Trump’s young presidency, a lot is unknown about how the sports world, and the annual White House visits, will proceed.

It’s not a secret that Trump is a controversial public figure. He won the election against tremendous odds and was inaugurated with the lowest approval rating of any president in U.S. history. No living, former president voted for him. His speeches, actions and legislation have drawn criticisms for being “racist,” “sexist” and “Islamaphobic.”

In fact, only 8 percent of African-American voters voted for Donald Trump, and no minority race had more than 37 percent vote for Trump.

Well why does this matter when we talk about sports? Look at it this way—in the NBA in 2015, 74.4 percent of players were African-American. Nearly 70 percent of all NFL and NCAA football players are African- American. In the MLB, 29.3 percent of players are of Latino descent, and Trump has repeatedly pushed for building a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump has created divisions so deep in these leagues that a Bleacher Report straw poll held before the election found that 20 out of 22 black NFL players planned to vote for Hillary Clinton, while 21 out of 21 white NFL players planned to vote for Trump.

So imagine what happens when the next team wins the Super Bowl, NBA finals or World Series.

What happens when the man who cuts funding to Planned Parenthood and plans to ban abortions invites the NCAA women’s basketball champion team to his place of business? Surely you can’t expect the peaceful, laid-back visits we are used to seeing.

No. We’re going to start seeing players publicly deny the invitations. We’re going to see half of a team show up to the White House.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if entire teams declined the chance to visit with Donald Trump.

Trump has already done more in his first few weeks as president than any of his predecessors, and not in a good way. He has waged war on free speech, free press and, in a way, waged war directly against the Constitution of the United States.

We have already seen mass protests against the views and legislation of Donald Trump. The Women’s March recorded 600,000 participants in Washington D.C. alone, not to mention hundreds of other cities across the world who participated.

As Trump continues to march on, he shows no sign of slowing the quantity of controversial legislation he is willing to push. And as Trump supporters dwindle—and they are—the protests are slowly growing toward a crescendo.

Athletes have already had their say about Donald Trump, and they’ve been anything but shy. But the biggest stage now is not a packed stadium in Houston in front of millions of people.

Rather, the biggest stage now are those front steps of the White House, and the stage is set for sports and politics to collide like they never have before.

The sports shots of The Quill reflect the views of individual members of the editorial board. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire editorial board or of the university. The content of the Sports pages is the responsibility of the editor in chief and the Sports editor.

Swimming and diving earn senior-day wins

By Kirsten Hatton Staff writer

The Susquehanna men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams cruised to 162-109 and 170-107.5 victories over Scranton on senior day on Jan. 28.

The women started the day with a win in the 200 medley that included seniors Erin McElwee and Ashlee Weingarten, junior Joann Butkus and sophomore Maggie Palaski who posted a time of 1:52.97.

Weingarten, Butkus and sophomore Katie Willis won three events each on the day.

Weingarten posted a time of 25.62 to win the 50 freestyle and went on to win the 100 butterfly with a time of 59.53. Willis placed first in the 200 free with a time of 1:58.32. Willis also won the 100 free with a time of 54.81. Butkus posted a time of 1:09.18 to win the 100 backstroke and 2:17.38 to win the 200 individual medley.

“On the women’s side, we have become extremely deep over the course of the season,” Head Coach Jerry Foley said.

Freshman Erin Wetmore placed first in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:20.35, and freshman Megan Shaffer placed first in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2.13.25.

Freshman Caitlin Kelly placed first in the 1000 freestyle with a time of 11:05.01, while junior Lindsey VanKirk placed third with a time of 11:37.70.

Other notable first place finishers included sophomore Megan Duck who posted a time of 2:31.82 in the 200 breaststroke and freshman Hannah Finton in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:31.71.

“On the men’s side, individuals are really starting to step up and own events.” Foley said.

Foley was right. The men’s team was able to win all 14 races on the day.

Senior Eric Lawrence, sophomore James Orzolek and freshmen David Grove and Shane Sullivan opened the meet with a first place finish in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:41.91. Grove, Sullivan and Orzolek each won four races to help the River Hawks past Scranton.

Grove won the 100 backstroke in 55.93 and the 200 backstroke in 2:04.57. Sullivan won the 100 and 200 breaststroke with times of 1:01.50 and 2:14.92. Orzolek won back-to-back races in the 50 and 100 freestyle with times of 22.24 and 49.31.

Senior David Miller won the 200 free in 1.47.14 and Lawrence won the 100 and 200 butterfly with times of 54.34 and 2.04.41, respectively.

Senior Bill Crumrine won the 1000 freestyle with a time of 10:29.84 while sophomore Ryan Nathan won the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:06.27. The men closed out the meet by winning the 400 freestyle with the team of Crumrine, Grove, Sullivan and Miller.

“We’ve been training really hard this entire month starting with our training trip down in Florida. We have really started to come together as a team and now are getting down to the end of our season,” sophomore Ryan Prater said.

Foley said, “I have been telling the team, we have set ourselves up for some remarkable performances at the end of the year.”

The River Hawks are back in action Feb. 4 as they travel to Catholic to finish the regular season and prepare for the 2017 Landmark Conference Championships.