Count baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron among the growing list of current and former athletes who would decline an invitation from President Donald Trump’s White House.
Speaking to the media Friday at the “Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Awards” ceremony in Atlanta, Aaron again voiced his support for athletes who are using their platform to speak about social and political issues. In the process, he made it clear there would be no appeal for him to meet the president under the current political climate.
“There’s nobody there I want to see,” Aaron stated during Friday’s event, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I can understand where the players are coming from. I really do. I understand they have their own issues and things they feel conviction about. They have a right to that, and I probably would be the same way, there’s no question about it.”
Hank Aaron has spoken out before
The revelation comes as no surprise. Aaron has been outspoken in recent months about several ongoing political and social issues. Most notably, he’s been very supportive of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who’s decision to kneel in protest during the national anthem drew the president’s ire and effectively ended his professional football career.
Aaron’s choice of words were pretty emphatic though. They match the sentiments expressed by several athletes who have declined or say they would decline a White House invitation during Trump’s presidency.
Donald Trump vs. professional athletes
President Trump has done his part to close the door on athletes with opposing viewpoints as well. Earlier in June, he disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on the eve of their scheduled celebration at the White House when he learned the majority of the team was skipping the event.
Trump has also yet to host an NBA championship team since taking office. The president said he had no plans to change that this season even before the Golden State Warriors won their second straight championship. The Warriors did not visit the White House last season, and it’s believed Trump hasn’t appreciated past comments made by Warriors superstar Stephen Curry and coach Steve Kerr.
Hank Aaron’s real message
Saying he wouldn’t visit the White House says a lot, but Aaron says the real key for athletes is knowing they have a voice and using it to share their experiences and shed light on what needs to be fixed.
“To be honest, I feel somewhat guilty that I didn’t do possibly as much as I could have done,” Aaron says. “We didn’t get to where we are today because we kept our mouth closed or scratched our head and sat and didn’t do anything.”
Those who have watched and listened to Hank Aaron know he’s done more than enough. The feeling he hasn’t is why it’s so important for this generation and the generations that follow to follow his lead.
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