My high school history teacher Steve Woodsum once introduced our class to his own original theory on how he believes history takes shape. 'Woodsum's Axiom' declares "Vacuums suck and timing is everything." While this is not exactly revolutionary historical analysis, there is no arguing with the truth of his words. Vacuums are known to suck from time to time. And timing is indeed everything.
Let us consider the timing of North Carolina Tar Heels' announcement that they will not be visiting the White House. It comes on a weekend where NFL players are locking arms and/or taking knees in response to President Trump's fiery condemnation of kneeling during the National Anthem.
It comes on a weekend when North Carolina native Stephen Curry declared he would not be visiting the White House with the Warriors, only to have his team's invitations rescinded (in case he changed his mind?). It comes on a weekend when the greatest basketball player in the world refers to our President on Twitter as "U bum" for his response to Curry. And it comes five and a half months after North Carolina won the National Championship.
UNC had an official explanation for not making the trip. Team spokesman Steve Kirschner confirmed that the Heels had received an invitation from President Trump, as is the custom for collegiate basketball and football champions (tough on all other sports, no?), but they "couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties" and tried "about eight or nine days and between them they couldn't work out that date, we couldn't work out that date." Kirschner added that the players "were fine with going."
This is not the first time that this has happened to the Tar Heels. The 2005 Championship team was not invited to visit the White House until September of that year. By that time, most of the team was playing in the NBA or overseas and there was no way to assemble a significant portion of the roster to visit President Bush. The 2009 team had no such issue. They attended the White House in May of that year, five weeks after cutting down the nets in Detroit. Since the school year had not yet ended, the Heels were able to visit in their entirety.
As far as the current administration is concerned, there was little difficulty in setting aside a day for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in April of this year, though a portion of the team made headlines for refusing to attend. It should be noted that the Patriot season was over and coordinating with a team scattered all over the United States ought to be a bit more difficult than one all living together in Chapel Hill. Similarly, there was no scheduling issue for the Clemson Tigers. The 53-man football squad made the journey to the White House in June, one month after classes had ended.
Perhaps the President prefers football? After all, his ownership of a USFL team and attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills are well-documented. Or perhaps he is more inclined to make time for his close friends Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick than he is for Roy Williams. Lest we forget, Williams is on record saying that President Trump "tweets out more bulls**t than anybody I've ever seen." Or perhaps the President has fewer available days at the White House available, since he has made numerous diplomatic visits overseas this year, in addition to his 53 vacation days.
Whatever the reason for this non-starter of a visit (and it may indeed be merely a case of scheduling issues), the timing is everything. As of Friday, the Warriors aren't going to the White House. Sunday morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they are. NFL owners and players are responding publicly to the President's comments on player protests. This past weekend was all about what teams do and say. And this weekend the Men's Basketball National Champions announced they weren't going to the White House. But don't feel bad boys: The Women's Basketball National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks weren't even invited.