Megan Rapinoe among the USWNT players already turning down potential White House invite

As is the case for any potential champion, the U.S. Women’s National Team is facing The White House Question.

To go or not to go?

The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins next week in France with the U.S returning as defending champions. Ahead of the trip and games, the players are being featured around the media world. With that comes the question of if they’ll make the trip to see President Donald Trump at the White House, a tradition that has taken a different turn and isn’t always a guarantee anymore.

Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, two of the most visible USWNT players, have voiced opposition to current policies and said they won’t go while others have remained non-committal.

Rapinoe on White House: ‘Absolutely not’

Rapinoe was clear in her comments, saying “absolutely not” to attending a celebration at the White House if the team defends its title in France.

From Jeny Vrentas at Sports Illustrated:

"I am not going to fake it, hobnob with the president, who is clearly against so many of the things that I am [for] and so many of the things that I actually am. I have no interest in extending our platform to him."

Rapinoe told SI she would be open to meeting with other members of the government in Washington, D.C. The Minnesota Lynx did not receive an invitation to the White House after their 2017 WNBA championship and instead did community service at an elementary school in the capital.

The 33-year-old Rapinoe is, in her own words, a “walking protest.” She came out publicly in 2012 and became a staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights and pay equality. In September 2016, she joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem, becoming the first female athlete to do so.

Her feelings on Trump are also clear; she calls him “sexist,” “misogynistic,” “small-minded,” “racist” and “not a good person.”

Morgan says no to White House

Alex Morgan also has simple thoughts on if she’ll visit the White House. The 29-year-old told Time Magazine’s Sean Gregory she won’t go since she doesn’t “stand for a lot of things the current office stands for.” She told Time she was against the policy of separating migrant families at the border to Mexico, noting that is where her husband’s family is from.

“We don’t have to be put in this little box. There’s the narrative that’s been said hundreds of times about any sort of athlete who’s spoken out politically. ‘Stick to sports.’ We’re much more than that, O.K.?”

Becky Sauerbrunn supported what Morgan said during media day, via Yahoo Sports:

"First we would have to win the whole thing, so that's no small feat. And then I'm sure the group will evaluate. But I'm sure what Alex said is pretty much the majority opinion."

Neither Tobin Heath nor Julie Ertz had a comment on if they’d go, noting they’re focused on the games and not what happens after.

"To be honest, I haven't thought about that at all because I'm just focused on the first game,” Tobin said. A reporter asked if it was a “cross that bridge when you get there” situation.

"I hope that bridge is there, you know?" she said.

Ertz said to ask her later.

"I have not even looked past the first game against Thailand. So you can ask me that later but the first game right now is against Thailand and that's literally all I've thought about."

The 27-year-old midfielder has an interesting perspective on White House offers. Her husband, Zach Ertz, was a member of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles team that had its invite rescinded by Trump. Much of the team had plans to skip the event, including most of the African American teammates.

White House invite not a guarantee

Heath’s comment about hoping the bridge would be there was in direct relation to winning the World Cup, which is arguably the deepest and most talented field in history.

It’s also meaningful since there’s no guarantee Trump will offer an invite. Baylor, the 2019 NCAA women’s basketball champion, was invited yet the winners before them were not. Nor was the aforementioned Lynx or the Golden State Warriors.

In contrast, Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and Team Penske were invited almost immediately after their Memorial Day weekend victory.

Many of these players had already spurned the potential offer. And even teams that did get an invite and visited were missing players, such as the Boston Red Sox earlier this spring. Others have flat out denied the invite.

Athletes and teams Trump has hosted at the White House
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Athletes and teams Trump has hosted at the White House
TOPSHOT - Guests select fast food that the US president purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 14, 2019. - US President Donald Trump says the White House chefs are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Baylor women's basketball head coach Kim Mulkey, third from left, presents a jersey to President Donald Trump as he welcomed members of the Baylor women's basketball team, who are the 2019 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball National Champions, to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump is given a jersey as he welcomes 2018 NCAA FCS College Football Champions, The North Dakota State Bison, to the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 4, 2019, with McDonald's and Chick-fil-A fast food. Third from left is to Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., second from right is Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and third from right is North Dakota State Bison quarterback Easton Stick. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump poses for a picture with the 2017 NCAA football national champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide on the White House's South Lawn, in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. presents a NASCAR helmet to U.S. President Donald Trump as the president welcomes Truex and his team to the White House in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON, USA - APRIL 19: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) holds up a customized jersey presented to him by 2017 Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots during their visit to the White House in Washington, United States on April 19, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: U.S. President Donald Trump is presented with a jersey by team captain Ahmad Bradshaw (R) during an event with the Army Black Knights football team from the U.S. Military Academy May 1, 2018 in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the 2017 Commander in Chief's Trophy champion to honor their victory. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series Champions, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: President Donald Trump holds a Chicago Cubs jersey as he meets with members of the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant holds a '45' sign. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - (L-R) With Penguins' coach Mike Sullivan, and co owners Ronald Burkle and Mario Lemieux behind, President Donald Trump honors the Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC Tuesday October 10, 2017. The Stanley Cup Trophy is in the foreground. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Team USA at the North Portico of the White House April 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the team to celebrate their victories in the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Team USA at the North Portico of the White House April 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the team to celebrate their victories in the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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