Dodgers become first sports champion to visit Biden White House

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The Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday became the first sports champion to be honored at the White House by President Biden, restoring a tradition that had been engulfed by partisan bickering during the Trump administration.

Mr. Biden welcomed the team, which ended its 32-year title drought with a World Series victory last year.

“The Dodgers are more than a baseball team,” the president said at a White House ceremony. “They are a pillar of American culture and American progress.”

“This is a world championship organization because they have a team full of guys who stepped up when they were called upon,” Mr. Biden continued.

The team presented Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris with Dodgers jerseys featuring numbers 46 and 49 on the backs. Mr. Biden is the nation’s 46th president and Ms. Harris is the 49th vice president.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw acknowledged that the team’s championship season was played while the COVID-19 pandemic raged through the country.

“Our hope is that we were able to provide just a little bit of joy and comfort and relief to our fans who were going through some tough times,” he said. “It means so much to us that fans are going back to the ballpark.”

The Dodgers are in Washington this weekend to play four games against the Washington Nationals.

The tradition of champion teams visiting the White House became a partisan football under former President Trump. Nearly half of the teams that won a championship during his presidency were not invited or turned it down for varying reasons.

In 2018, for example, Mr. Trump invited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House. But after reports surfaced that only three players would attend the ceremony, Mr. Trump rescinded the invitation.

However, each of the four World Series winners during the Trump years, including the Nationals in 2019, did attend a White House ceremony.

The teams’ decisions not to visit the White House split Americans, with some finding it disrespectful while others applauded the clubs for taking a political stance.

Mr. Biden has invited the 2020-21 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl this year, to the White House. There is no word if or when those teams will appear for a ceremony.

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