This is very telling.
By now, you’ve seen every photo there is showing Clemson Tigers showing up to the White House and being greeted by President Donald Trump, who laid out a meal that included McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.
While it seemed like a good turnout of players at the White House with the amount of players in the room, but there were a significant amount of the team who chose not to show their face.
Many of the African-American players had an issue with showing up because of who was in office, but many did so anyway because they were afraid of the possible repercussions from head coach Dabo Swinney, according to The Root.
The Root spoke with three black Clemson players who each separately confirmed that many players, both black and white, had no interest in making the trip. All three acknowledged that Donald Trump was the reason they chose not to attend. Even more telling, most of Clemson’s white players were in attendance while nearly three-fourths of the school’s black football players took a hard pass on the chance to eat cold fries with the president of people who eat salads from McDonald’s.
Another defensive standout noted that coaches didn’t pressure players to accompany the team to Washington, D.C., but said that almost every black player he knew didn’t want to take the trip. However, he noted that he knew that some players only attended because they worried that refusing to attend the traditional White House visit might affect their scholarships or playing time.
“Not saying anything against the players who went,” the junior explained, “but if you look at who went—freshman and people fighting for playing time—you’ll see what I’m talking about.”
In total, 15 of the University’s black players listed on the school’s official roster attended the White House visit, the vast majority of whom (11) were freshmen or sophomores who had very little playing time during the season. Just one senior made the trip and only six of the players in attendance were even listed on Clemson’s national championship depth chart. There are at least 57 black student-athletes on Clemson’s official team roster, which means 74 percent of Clemson’s African-American players chose not to make the trip to the White House.
The Root reached out to Joe Galbraith, Clemson’s associate vice president for strategic communications, and he explained two-thirds of Clemson’s players attended the dinner.
“We had 76 student-athletes (approximately two-thirds of the team) make the trip to D.C.,” Galbraith’s statement read. “For a variety of reasons, several players were not able to adjust schedules to make the trip.
“On the championship game roster, 26 players had already received their bachelor’s degree, and had no planned obligations on campus beginning that week,” the email added. “Other student-athletes had class obligations as the spring semester began the week prior.”
The report went on to check that info and saw that Clemson was less than a week into its spring semester and all three players acknowledged that their professors would have excused the absences.
“So, you think players just wanted to go to classes so bad?” another sophomore member of the team asked rhetorically. “They told us it was up to us. Folk just didn’t want to go.”