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According to Fox News, three members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins football team recently turned down an invitation to a ceremony at the White House with President Barack Obama.
Jim Langer, Bob Kuechenberg and Manny Fernandez refused to attend the soiree because of the polarity of their political persuasions, according to an article by Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com.
Although the men certainly made a statement by ditching the ceremony, I question their motives. If they avoided the meeting simply because their political views differ, they made a mistake.
Nonparticipation is only a minimally effective means of expressing disagreement. It says what is wrong, but offers no guidance as to what is right.
The players had a unique opportunity to speak to the president in a personal way and politely relay their thoughts. Chances are, the dissenting members would not influence Obama’s decisions, but at least they would have advocated something.
Even so, the occasion was not the kind meant for political discussion. According to the Washington Post, Obama’s invitation was meant to commemorate the team’s accomplishments.
The president had no obligation to celebrate their bygone success, yet he graciously opened his home to them.
The refusing members essentially left themselves open to accusations of being rude, which they deservedly received. Furthermore, as guests of honor, the men failed to show up for their own party, citing politics as the reason for their absence.
The word “hardheaded” comes to mind. All in all, the players’ reaction conveys a certain level of immaturity.
Apparently, Obama was not upset by the rejection, according to a Huffingtonpost.com interview.
This situation is embarrassing to those that would agree with the players’ political platform. Assuming their beliefs are conservative, the response casts other conservatives in a negative light.
Being around people with differing opinions does not necessitate an agreement with them. Eating their food does not equal advocating their policies.
The highest office in the U.S. is that of the president. The position demands and deserves respect, regardless of personal beliefs.
An article from nydailynews.com said players that did attend missed their teammates, but had an enjoyable experience without them. Obama joked and took pictures with the team, creating a lighthearted atmosphere.
David Hyde, in his column for the SunSentinel, quotes Kuechenberg as saying, “‘I want to be careful because mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don’t say anything.’”
Maybe it was best Hyde stayed behind after all.