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Hank Aaron on whether he would visit White House: 'There's nobody there I want to see'

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 6/23/2018 Tom Schad
Hank Aaron wearing a suit and tie: Former Braves slugger Hank Aaron speaks during a 2014 ceremony at Turner Field in Atlanta honoring the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking 715th home run. © Daniel Shirey, USA TODAY Sports Former Braves slugger Hank Aaron speaks during a 2014 ceremony at Turner Field in Atlanta honoring the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking 715th home run.

Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Aaron said Friday that he supports athletes who use their platform to speak about social and political issues, adding that he would not visit the White House today if he were part of a championship-winning team.

"There’s nobody there I want to see," Aaron said at a ceremony for the "Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Awards" in Atlanta, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"I can understand where the players are coming from. I really do. I understand they have their own issues and things they feel conviction about. They have a right to that, and I probably would be the same way, there’s no question about it."

Championship sports teams have long been invited to the White House for a celebration, but the tradition has become more controversial during President Donald Trump's time in office. Trump abruptly uninvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on the eve of their scheduled celebration this year, citing the small contingent they planned to bring to the event, and he has not invited an NBA champion to visit the White House since taking office.

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Beyond White House visits, Aaron, who appeared in 25 All-Star games and hit 755 home runs in his career, said he believes athletes should always voice their opinions, and expressed a tinge of regret for not frequently doing so during his own playing career.

"To be honest, I feel somewhat guilty that I didn’t do possibly as much as I could have done," Aaron said, according to The Journal-Constitution.

However, Aaron also acknowledged that times have changed. He said athletes from today are using their voices more frequently and making a larger impact — as they should, he believes.

"We didn’t get to where we are today because we kept our mouth closed or scratched our head and sat and didn’t do anything," Aaron said.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.


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