Carlos Correa decided to skip the Astros visit to the White House on Monday to instead spend the day arranging relief efforts for the people of Puerto Rico where he was from. Correa and Ken Giles, who was attending to family matters, were the only two Astros not to attend the ceremony, which included an introduction to President Donald Trump.
Correa says the decision was based entirely on his desire to help the people in his home town and not because of any political motivations. He said he believed it wasn't appropriate to try and address the issue of Puerto Rico with Trump given the trip was for the team and its World Series win. "It was just that the day off was perfect to be able to provide some help for the people in Puerto Rico in need," Correa told the Associated Press.
Puerto Rico is still suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. It has been reported that as much as 30 percent of the island remains without power and entire towns were decimated by the massive storm. The federal government has taken considerable criticism for its handling of the relief efforts for the U.S. territory.
Of course, the President has been no stranger to controversy since he took office and that includes sports. He argued that players who protest during the National Anthem should be fired from their teams causing a wave of backlash among players across the NFL.
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Even celebratory trips to the White House, which, historically, have been benign apolitical events, have come under scrutiny. The Golden State Warriors made the decision to not attend a ceremony for their NBA Finals win earlier this year. Several Warriors players and coach Steve Kerr have been outspoken in their opposition to the President's policies. That was followed shortly thereafter by a Tweet from Trump rescinding the offer they had already declined.
Whether Correa's decision was a direct diss of the President or simply a way to emphasize the struggles of his fellow Puerto Ricans, the very act of not going and instead organizing relief efforts clearly places a spotlight on not only the struggles of the people on the island, but how critically important relief remains for Puerto Rico. It also serves to emphasize, albeit with some subtlelty, the failings of the government to provide for its citizens.
To his credit, he was polite and appreciative for the opportunity. Correa understands that his team won the World Series. It's a big deal, and he didn't want to ruin it for them. He also understands that there is no sense in distracting from what is meant to be a celebration for those accomplishments.
But, Correa also knew his actions would be noticed. It may not have been a political protest, but his actions have political implications, and that may have been the point. "I don't only represent the Houston Astros, I don't only represent my family, but I also represent the American citizens that are living in Puerto Rico," he said. "I just want to bring some awareness to what is going on."