Biden on Dodgers' visit: 'We need sports more than we ever realized'

President BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE on Friday welcomed the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers to the White House, praising their 2020 title run as a glimmer of hope during a difficult year.

"When the season began it was easy to feel like we had bigger things to worry about than just sports. And of course we did and we still do. But I think what we discovered is we need sports more than we ever realized," Biden said.

The president hailed the Dodgers' accomplishments on the field as well as the team's contributions to ending the pandemic. Dodger Stadium is among the ballparks offering vaccinations to fans who attend games.

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"Not only does Dodger Stadium host world champions, it helps save lives and strengthen our democracy as well," Biden said.

The Dodgers visit was the latest instance of the White House returning to normal as the country makes progress against the coronavirus pandemic. They were the first championship team to visit during the Biden administration, and the first professional team to make the trip since the onset of the pandemic.

Only one player wore a mask as the team stood on risers behind the president, and the visit was largely controversy-free after multiple teams and players refused to visit during the Trump administration.

"Last season was a special one for us, but it was also a challenging one for our country," Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. "And our hope was we were able to provide just a little bit of joy and comfort and relief to our fans who were going through some tough times."

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, who is the subject of sexual assault allegations, was not in attendance. He signed with the Dodgers as a free agent after the 2020 season and was not part of the World Series team.

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Biden joked with the players and coaches about first lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Biden to host Quad leaders in sign of refocused Asia policy First Lady visits schools to discuss COVID-19 MORE's Philadelphia Phillies fandom, quipping that if he rooted against the team he would be sleeping alone. The president also noted Vice President Harris's rooting interest in the Dodgers' NL West rival San Francisco Giants.

The team presented both Biden and Harris with custom jerseys, and they posed for photos with the team. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Watch live: McCarthy holds briefing with reporters MORE (R-Calif.) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric GarcettiEric GarcettiLA councilman launches run for mayor with focus on those who are 'barely holding on' LA City Council votes to crack down on protests outside homes Bass says she is 'seriously considering' running for LA mayor MORE (D) also attended the ceremony at the White House.

No NBA champions visited the White House while former President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE was in office, as the then-president traded insults with stars like LeBron James and coaches like Steve Kerr. Then-President Trump in 2018 canceled a visit from the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles after it became apparent most players would not attend.

MLB teams did continue the tradition of visiting the White House, however. The Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals each met with Trump after winning the World Series in recent years, though players on each team did decline to join.