LA Dodgers: Biden celebrates his team’s championship win and return to normal

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The trip to the White House has long been a hallmark of American sport, as winning teams get the chance to meet the President when their team travels to Washington for a game in the following season or during the offseason. The Dodgers were the first team from America’s Big Four Sports Leagues to visit Biden in the White House after reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers decided to skip their visit in April due to coronavirus concerns. The president also invited Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the White House after their victory in February.

At the ceremony in the East Room, Biden congratulated the team for giving their fans so much joy during the difficult 2020 season, which was shortened and played in mostly empty stadiums due to the pandemic of Covid-19. The president said it became clearer than ever in 2020 how important sport is to the American psyche.

“I think what we’ve discovered is that we need sports more than we ever imagined,” Biden said. “We see it now as fans return to stadiums and arenas across the country, cheering on their favorite teams and players and sharing that sense of community and pride. It’s a unifying element.”

During his remarks, Biden thanked the organization for allowing the iconic Dodger Stadium to be used for Covid testing and vaccinations. The president said more than a million Covid-19 tests have been carried out at the stadium and around half a million shots have been administered there. The organization was also the first U.S. sports team to offer its stadium as an outdoor remote voting site in the 2020 election, according to Biden.

The president – who noted that he was backing the Philadelphia Phillies at the behest of First Lady Jill Biden, a staunch supporter of all Philadelphia sports teams – noted that the Dodgers themselves are a point of contention at the highest level of his administration. Vice President Kamala Harris is originally from Northern California and is a fan of the San Francisco Giants, the rival Dodgers team, and her husband – second gentleman Doug Emhoff – is from the Los Angeles area and is a lifelong Dodgers fan.

“We are honored and delighted that they are here, that also goes for the vice president,” Biden said, with a wry smile. “She’s from California, you’ve probably heard, I’m not going to mention which end of the state she’s from right now and who she’s rooting for.… She has a sports-based mixed family.”

Paying tribute to Dodgers stars Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger – and shouting out some of the famous names from the team’s past like Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Jackie Robinson – Biden said the team is an American icon.

“The Dodgers are more than a baseball club, they really are,” he said. “They are a pillar of American culture and American progress, and they are for real.”

The visit was also notable for its lack of political controversy in the days leading up to it. Former President Donald Trump hosted several championship teams in the White House during his tenure, but also argued with several over their objections to his political positions and measures. No NBA team visited the White House during his tenure and Trump also canceled the Philadelphia Eagles visit in 2018 for political reasons.

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