Jill Biden stumbles by inviting NCAA winners (and losers) to the White House

WASHINGTON — Borrowing from sports parlance, unforced error.

First Lady Jill Biden attended the NCAA Women’s Championship last weekend, sitting in the stands with college basketball players and telling them about how far female athletes have come. On Monday, he was still upbeat, saying he hopes to invite Louisiana State to the White House after winning the title from Iowa, 102-85, on Sunday.

“But, you know,” he added, “I’m going to tell Joe, I think Iowa should come, too, because they played a good game.”

With that, Dr. Biden stumbled into a rich tradition of White House sports invitations that have become more politicized every year as the forces of race, social justice, gender and politics continue to reshape the realms of athletics and fandom.

Sports fans, newscasters and athletes were quick to point out to the first lady that White House invitations are only awarded to winners. But the game was about more than who won and who lost.

The story features LSU star Angel Reese as he leads his team’s efforts to topple Iowa and their top guard, Caitlin Clark. Mrs. Rees is black and Mrs. Clark is white. and Miss. Clark, the consensus National Player of the Year, used a dismissive approach hand gesture In order to antagonize her enemies, she did not take as much criticism of her conduct as Mrs. Rees did. Pointing her championship-ring finger to Mrs. Clark during the title game as the Tigers pulled away to win.

“If we lose, we won’t be invited to the White House,” Ms Rees said in a podcast. He indicated on Tuesday that he would not accept a pardon, and left an open question whether he would go to the White House. “We’ll go to Obama. We’ll go to Michelle; we’ll go to Barack,” he added.

Her comments defied a clean-up effort on behalf of Dr Biden, who has been the first lady to make some public mistakes, but her misdeeds have drawn criticism from vocal groups that she lacks cultural knowledge.

Last summer, he was criticized by Latino groups Compares the diversity of the Hispanic community For the breadth of breakfast taco options available in Texas. In 2021, he cursed the Spanish language by saying “sí se puede”. During a visit To the first headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America.

Kathryn Jellison, a historian who studies first women, says the current role, without formal expectations, is surrounded by more cultural landmines than in years past, thanks to the immediacy of social media response and the array of platforms. Available to reviewers.

“I would say there’s more awareness and more ways to express yourself through social media and traditional media,” Ms Jellison said. “In that sense, it’s definitely a whole new ball game.”

Both Ms. Clark and Ms. Reese have given several interviews about the White House invitation Mrs Clarke says She doesn’t believe the runners-up should attend. Ms Reese was particularly vocal on Twitter, retweeting and retweeting the first lady’s call to both teams as “a joke”. Sportsman Chris Williamson’s message: “Your apology should be as loud as your disrespect.”

On Tuesday, Vanessa Valdivia, the first lady’s press secretary, said Dr. Biden was trying to be mindful of all female athletes when calling both teams.

“The first lady wanted to watch the NCAA women’s basketball championship game with the young student athletes and appreciate how much women’s sports have come with the passage of Title IX,” Ms. Valdivia wrote on Twitter, referring to the landmark 1972 law that banned gender discrimination. In games. “Her comments at Colorado should be a tribute to the historic game and all female athletes. She looks forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers’ championship victory at the White House.

The first lady has previously invited female athletes to the White House and has used those invitations to highlight issues related to equity in sports. On Equal Pay Day 2021, she delivered remarks alongside Megan Rapinoe and Margaret Burse of the US women’s soccer team, both of whom insisted that female athletes be paid the same as male athletes.

“You know I’m IX. We fought really hard, didn’t we? We fought very hard,” Dr Biden said in his remarks on Monday. “Look at where women’s sports have come today. So we have to keep working. We must continue to work. “

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Sports teams visited the White House in 1865 when President Andrew Johnson welcomed baseball’s Washington Nationals and Brooklyn Atlantics. In recent years, some athletes have foregone the ceremonial visit in favor of an invitation or the opportunity to share their views on the president.

Golfer Tom Lehman once turned down an invitation from President Bill Clinton, whom Mr. In 2012, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas skipped the championship ceremony hosted by President Barack Obama because, he said“The federal government has grown out of control.”

Donald J. No president has drawn more protests than Trump, who has been known to cancel invitations to athletes if they plan not to attend. In 2018, he retracted a call for the Philadelphia Eagles in a debate over players kneeling during the national anthem at games.

On Tuesday, President Biden said both the men’s and women’s basketball champions would be invited to the White House. (No word on Iowa, though.)

“We can all learn a lot from watching these champions compete,” said Mr. Biden said on Twitter, “I look forward to welcoming them on each of their White House visits.”

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