Whenever an American sports team wins a major championship, its victory tour usually runs through the White House. But yesterday was a rare twofer celebration at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. President Barack Obama welcomed both 2014 MLS champs the Los Angeles Galaxy and 2014 Stanley Cup winners the LA Kings to congratulate them on their titles.
As a Chicago fan, I’m a little resentful,” Obama said to laughter. “You guys have an embarrassment of riches.”
This wasn’t the first time the Galaxy or Kings have visited the White House. They both did it — together — two years ago.
“Today feels a little like Groundhog Day. If you’re feeling a little déjà vu, you’re not alone,” the President joked. “If you see Bill Murray playing the piano in the foyer, you know something weird is going on, and we’re probably going to do this again.”
That was a reference to the movie Groundhog Day, where Murray’s character relives the same day over and over again. And yesterday actually was Groundhog Day, so well played, Mr. President!
With the jokes out of the way, Obama recounted the Galaxy’s championship season. He focused especially on how the team clawed its way out of the basement to win the MLS Cup.
Obama also praised how teams like the Galaxy are helping grow the popularity of soccer in the US.
“It is wonderful to see not just what’s happening at the highest levels of professional sports, but how legions of young people are going to be continuing the traditions here in the United States with soccer for many years to come,” Obama said.
The President then turned to the Kings and their unpredictable run to the Cup. But he couldn’t resist a light-hearted dig on the team that defeated his Blackhawks in the playoffs.
“I mean, first of all, in L.A., there’s not even any ice really,” Obama said. “So you’d think, like, Chicago, where it’s probably 10 degrees below zero today, at least we’d get some hockey. But we’ve won a couple so I can’t complain.”
The President closed his remarks by applauding both teams and their players for the work they do in their community, especially their support of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But he specifically called out Galaxy winger Robbie Rogers, one of the first openly gay athletes in American professional sports.
“My guess is that, as an athlete, Robbie wants to win first and foremost — that’s what competition is all about,” Obama said. “But, Robbie, you’ve also inspired a whole lot of folks here and around the world, and we are very proud of you.”
When the President finished his remarks, the Galaxy presented him with a personalized jersey. The Kings went a different route, giving Obama a silver hockey stick with an engraved blade that read, “Presented to President Barack Obama by the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, February 2, 2015.”
“This is better than a veto pen,” Obama quipped.
Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images