WASHINGTON – President Obama celebrated with the champion Los Angeles Kings and the Galaxy in the White House on Tuesday and then looped some of the players into an event for First Lady Michelle Obama’s favorite cause: her campaign against childhood obesity.
Obama praised the hockey and soccer teams for their 2012 championship seasons, noting that, besides sharing a hometown, “they share a pretty good comeback story.”
The president noted that the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, but pointed out that Coach Darryl Sutter “got good training” when he was playing for and later coaching Obama’s hometown hockey team.
The teams and their coaches stood behind Obama in the East Room and smiled as the president accepted jerseys from both -- #1 from the Galaxy and #44 for the Kings (Obama is the nation’s 44th president) – and then tossed and headed a soccer ball handed to him by Landon Donovan.
Hosting winning sports teams is one of Obama’s favorite pastimes as president. The events rarely turn political, with the exception of last year’s visit by the Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins. Goaltender Tim Thomas refused to make the trip, explaining it was because the “government has grown out of control.”
Sutter, however, had planned to press Obama to allow the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada through the U.S.
The owner of a ranch in Alberta, Sutter told the paper he supports the controversial project to transport oil to the Gulf Coast. The Obama administration so far has withheld approval of the project.
It was unclear whether the coach brought the issue up with the president. He did not speak to the media and the White House was not saying. But the two made nice, at least during the public ceremony.
After meeting with the president, a handful of players talked fitness, sports and food with some Washington schoolchildren at a forum hosted by Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, who is the director of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program to promote exercise and healthy eating.
Donovan revealed that his favorite healthy snack is avocado and his favorite exercise is running. Midfielder Mike Magee emphasized the importance of training and practice to winning games. Defender Todd Dunivant put it plainly, if team members get out of shape, “We lose our jobs and that’s not a good thing.”
Kings players were put on the spot when asked by the one child if they’d ever been in a fight.
“I have,” admitted right wing Dustin Brown sheepishly. “It happens.”
“But they regret every second of it,” Kass interjected.