( CNN) For championship athletics squads, an invite from the White House used to be a slam dunk. Why wouldn’t you leap at the chance to visit the most famous home in the country and banter with the president?
The tradition dates back at least to the ‘6 0s, although President Reagan in the ‘8 0s was the first to make it a regular occurrence.
Some players have skipped the trip, quoting scheduling conflicts. The Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird built news when he opted out in 1984, saying, “If( Reagan) wants to see me, he knows where to find me.” In 1991 Michael Jordan played golfinstead of scratching elbows with President George H. W. Bush. And in 2017 Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta skipped a White House visit with President Obama, fueling speculation that his decision was political( he denied it ).