Winning the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship brought the University of Connecticut players to the White House this past week. But it was their scholarship and dedication to community service, as much as their court skill, that captured the attention of President Barack Obama.
"When they're not hitting the books or representing their country [playing overseas], they find time to get involved in the community," the president said. "These are just some incredible athletes, but they're also just really outstanding young women."
Yes, they are. Good for the president for pointing it out. And for being a sport about their innocent high jinks.
The multifaceted successes of these athletes are no accident. Coach Geno Auriemma demands good scholarship as well as good citizenship. Though it may be an oxymoron elsewhere, his players really are student-athletes. They not only deliver superb basketball, they are worthy ambassadors for their school and, not incidentally, their state; we're lucky they are ours.
"They're great role models," the president said. Indeed.
Those Bunny Ears
The meeting in the East Room was a jolly affair, with quips flying back and forth. The president joked that the coach had made so many victory trips to Washington that Mr. Auriemma has "spent more time than some presidents in the White House."
After playfully warning team members not to use their fingers to make "bunny ears" behind his head during the photo shoot, Mr. Obama reportedly said, "OK, then, just do it." And two of them did.
The photos caused a bit of a flurry in some quarters from those who harrumphed that the gesture was shockingly disrespectful. Irreverent it might have been — but critics should take a cue from the president, accept this good-natured joshing and lighten up. Ear today, gone tomorrow.