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President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers at the White House on Friday in the first visit by a sports team since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event in the White House East Room honored the Major League Baseball team for its October World Series victory.
“I think what we discovered [during the pandemic] is that we need sports more than we ever realized,” Biden said.
Biden said the “sense of community and pride” from sports is a “uniting feature.”
“When we go through a crisis, very often sports brings us together to heal, to help us feel like things are going to be okay,” Biden said.
The Dodgers already were in DC for a four-game series against the Washington Nationals and defeated the home team 6-2 on Thursday in a match shortened by intense thunderstorms.
Visiting sports teams give presidents an opportunity to court voters who don’t usually pay attention to politics and generally are more light-hearted than most official visits.
Former President Donald Trump famously served piles of fast food to the Clemson University football team in January 2019 during a partial government shutdown.
On Friday, Biden teased Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney and a presumed San Francisco Giants fan, for not actually being a fan of the Dodgers, unlike her husband Doug Emhoff.
“I have a mixed family and she’s got a mixed family based on baseball and sports,” Biden joked.
“I’m not going to mention that team in northern California in the San Francisco area. And I’m not going to mention that team in Philadelphia. My wife is a Philly girl from her belt buckle to her shoe soles. And if I root for anybody but the Phillies, I’ll be sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom alone.”
Second gentleman Emhoff is an intense Dodgers fan, according to the team, which on Thursday posted photos of the second gentleman hanging out with players.
“Lifelong Dodger fan and Second Gentleman @DouglasEmhoff visited the Dodgers clubhouse prior to tonight’s game,” the team tweeted.
The Los Angeles team hasn’t visited the White House since 1988 when Ronald Reagan was president, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Dodgers carried the World Series last year by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays. Sean Gilmartin, the husband of then-White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, is a pitcher for the Rays.
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