NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins agree to visit Trump White House in misguided decision

The NHL and the White House do have one thing in common: institutional racism

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      The Pittsburgh Penguins have more or less validated Donald Trump's treatment of professional athletes and their rights, as the team has accepted the president's offer to go to celebrate their Stanley Cup win at the White House. 

      While Trump feuds with the NFL over players kneeling while the national anthem is played at games and NBA stars who refuse to celebrate their championship wins at the White House, the president was happy to send out some good PR for his administration today, in the form of a grammatically incorrect tweet.

      The news comes on the heels of Trump blasting out tweets earlier in the day that more or less infringed on the rights of professional athletes. 

      Many NFL games today featured players standing arm-in-arm to convey solidarity during the anthem, while more than a few athletes chose to kneel during the anthem. 

      But the news is bad for the NHL. Really bad. 

      Already widely regarded as the major professional sport league with the most boring players (who are, coincidentally, almost all white), the NHL now has one of its member clubs turning a blind eye and pretending that everything is fine. 

      It's not. 

      Worse is that this comes after the NHL's Declaration of Principles earlier this month which promised to promote inclusivity in the game of hockey. Not only is a statement of that nature somewhat hilarious coming from the diversity-challenged NHL, the Declaration was endorsed by Pope Francis. That seems just a little odd at first, if not harmless, but when you look through the screed, "We Believe" is the headline in a variety of different categories. What, exactly, is being promoted here? And what does it all mean?

      Well, the fact that the NHL seems to be rejecting diversity out of hand. That the Penguins are OK with honouring a president who has been openly advocating for the "firing" of professional athletes who choose to peacefully protest the racial inequality in the United States is just dangerous practice, and coupled with the NHL's acceptance of the Pope's endorsement, it seems as though the mostly white, mostly conservative league is intent on staying that way. 

      After all, it's virtually impossible to separate PK Subban's skin colour and outspoken personality from the fact he was deemed a "locker room distraction" and run out of Montreal. 

      It will never come out whether the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman advised the Pittsburgh Penguins to accept Trump's invite, but it's a move that the league will nonetheless be linked to. It can't possibly be seen as the organization acting alone.

      And while it's probably easier for members of the Golden State Warriors, who play in California, to reject a Republican president's invite to the White House than it is for a team playing in blue-collar Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL took one of the harshest stances against Trump this weekend, when the team not only didn't stand for the national anthem, they refused to come out of the dressing room for it.

      Fans of hockey will no doubt be ashamed of the Penguins for going to visit Trump, especially when he's more or less using the Penguins to change the conversation away from his terrible relationship with some of the other professional sports leagues. The Penguins — and by extension, the NHL — have agreed to be a pawn in Trump's deranged game of chess with the rights of professional athletes.