'A great honour': Crosby faces backlash for accepting White House invitation
Sidney Crosby is used to make headlines for his play on the ice, but comments he made Monday about his team’s upcoming visit to the White House are making headlines of a different kind.
Crosby has made it clear he's all about hockey, yet a decision to stick with his team and take the Stanley Cup to Washington has forced him into politics.
“I support it,” Crosby told reporters Monday. “It's a great honour for us to be invited there.”
Halifax social activist El Jones calls Crosby's upcoming appearance at the White House an “insult to African Nova Scotians.”
“There is a long history of black hockey here, so when we say Sidney Crosby is a community hero, who does he have a community responsibility for?” Jones asks. “When people are saying this is an apolitical statement or doesn't mean anything, think about what Martin Luther King Jr. said to us. That when you choose silence, you are choosing the side of the oppressor.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins accepted the invitation the same day NFL players, owners and some fans protested United States President Donald Trump, who criticized the league's players for refusing to stand during the national anthem.
Steph Curry and the NBA champion Golden State Warriors turned down a similar invite to the White House.
In Crosby’s hometown of Cole Harbour, opinions are mixed.
“I was just surprised that they're going,” said one resident. “I figured all from different sports leagues would stay all together on it.”
“He should go,” said another, “because it is a good opportunity for someone from such a small place.”
Paul Mason used to coach Crosby as a kid and remains close with the family.
“I can tell by his words he is the ultimate team guy and his team has chosen to go with them,” Mason says.
Percy Paris, a former politician, hockey scout and member of Nova Scotia’s African Nova Scotian community, says he respects that everyone has the right to an opinion, but this situation may be beyond politics.
“Without any hesitation, I would not be going to the White House,” says Paris. “I am not convinced this is all about politics. I think there is a social impact here and I think athletes, who get paid millions of dollars, are role models for our youth.”
Sidney Crosby and his team have yet to comment since Monday about what's set to be their third visit to the White House with the Stanley Cup since 2009.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl.