Washington (CNN)The North Dakota State Bison football team was given the White House's championship treatment this week, complete with fast food served up on fine china and silver (and extra sauce).
How Donald Trump is making sports team visits 'about food and about himself'
Meanwhile, no standalone female championship team has attended a celebration like this at the Trump White House, The Washington Post reported Monday. (The White House did not respond to CNN's request for comment on The Washington Post report, and did not respond to questions about whether female championship teams had been invited.)
I sat down with CNN sports analyst and sports columnist for USA Today Christine Brennan to find out more about the striking absence of female sports teams at celebrations in the Trump White House -- and just how significant their Pennsylvania Avenue absence is. Our interview has been lightly edited for length and flow.
Lauren Dezenski: Talk about what it means for a team to come to the White House. Why is it a big deal and why would teams necessarily want to do that?
Christine Brennan: You said it best. The words "White House." It's not so much you're visiting the President. They'll all say -- and I've covered these since the '80s, Olympic teams, NFL teams -- I've covered at least two dozen, maybe 30 of these visits over the years. And every single time you talk to an athlete who's going, you talk to the coach, ... it's not about the President, it's about going to the White House, the incredible honor of going to the White House.
It's been Democrats, it's been Republicans, it doesn't matter. It's about going to the White House to celebrate your victory. You get the trophy, you get the celebration, and then the ultimate -- you go to the White House.
LD: Is this a break from tradition?
CB: Absolutely. The question is, where are the women's teams? When you consider that today is the greatest day in women's sports ... until tomorrow, and then the next day and the next day, women's sports in this country, Title IX, the nation has fallen in love with this law. And to think this is a President who appears to be actively not inviting women's teams, it's just astounding. And it's totally out of touch from what the nation thinks about women's and girls' sports.
And I can make a case that red states care more about women's and girls sports than blue states. So it's certainly not a political advantage for the President to be doing this. Because we could go to a town in Alabama, or Tennessee, or Mississippi, or Ohio -- any red state -- and find moms and dads, especially dads, over the moon about their daughters' sports opportunities and her chances to get a college scholarship.
That is where the United States is in 2019. The President is acting like he's stuck back in the '50s or '60s, when we had no women's team sports. It is mind-boggling that he is choosing to do this.
LD: Has there been any sense that these women's teams haven't been interested in going to the Trump White House?
CB: When you have a man, as President, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, it's understandable that women might not want to be around him. I realize that's quite a statement, but I don't mind saying it. It is understandable.
There are a lot of people who very strongly support Donald Trump and there are a lot of people who very strongly don't support Donald Trump. We know that. That's not a news flash. But here's the thing. Invite them. For example, the Golden State Warriors, it turned out they didn't want to come. It was a very public spat. But they were invited.
He's not even inviting them. And if they choose to turn it down, they turn it down. So not only would I say where are the women's teams, I would say where are the invitations for the women's teams. And why does he feel comfortable inviting men's teams and not women's teams? It's been since 2017 that a women's team has been to the White House, and that was with 18 teams total. Men and women.
George W. Bush would do that all the time. He would have risers or bleachers all the way around the East Room and then have women's track and field, men's track and field, etc., etc. That was standard operating procedure in the Clinton White House, the George W. Bush White House, the Obama White House, and then it's just literally all gone away.
LD: Talk about the spectacle of these team visits specifically to the Trump White House and how it compares to the other administrations.
CB: Well the big thing is that there's food.
LD: Really? That's the big thing?
CB: Oh yeah, there was never food before. I don't remember ever seeing food. Maybe punch and cookies. So Trump has made this a story about fast food. He's created that. I've covered at least two dozen of these and I've never seen food.
LD: How has that changed the tone?
CB: With the President insisting on fast food and then making a big deal about it, if there's soccer moms, are there fast food dads? I don't know.
LD: ...and are they Trump voters?
CB: Right. And of course the whole Clemson one which was during the shutdown, he hustled them to the White House within a week of them winning the national title. These things almost always take two to three months to come to fruition. So he hustled them there as a photo op. It was all about using Clemson as a prop.
We should call it as we see it. He's made the food an issue. He's making it about food and about himself.
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama all made it about the team. And Donald Trump is making it about food and himself.
I don't think any of these other presidents thought about it as a photo op.