Why Trump and sports shouldn’t mix
US President adding salt to wound in politics, and in sports
By Sajan Jabbal, Staff Writer
Sports teams across all North American platform have been protesting what 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump has been stating over the past two weeks. “Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now, he’s fired,” Trump recently exclaimed during a rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange about how the NFL players have recently been taking a knee or sitting during the national anthem in protest against police brutality and social injustice.
Trump states that team owners should fire the players who allegedly “disrespect the flag.”
This whole controversy started back in the summer of 2016 when former-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the playing of the American anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner.”
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” the still-jobless quarterback stated at the start of his movement back in the preseason of 2016.
The original protest had Kap sit down on the bench during the duration of the anthem but after having a conversation with Nate Boyer, who served in the US military before playing in the NFL.
Boyer wrote an open letter to Kap explaining that taking a knee would be a more appropriate approach as that is what takes place when a folded US flag is presented to the family of a soldier killed in combat.
Now a year later, with Kaepaernick still unsigned to an NFL team, he saw his awareness around the sports world as many athletes took a knee to support what he had been protesting.
This is not the first time Trump has gotten himself involved with the NFL in a negative way.
Between 1983 and 1985, Trump was team owner and partial league owner of the United States Football League (USFL), a pro football league under the NFL. During his tenure with the USFL, he sued the NFL for monopolistic practices.
Defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors are also attached to the controversy with Trump recently declined them from the White House.
In professional sports, it is common for teams who win the championship of their respective league to get invited from the President to meet them in the White House.
Superstars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant of the Warriors have expressed their feelings and disbelief about going to the White House, in which Trump responded in a tweet saying that they were not invited in the first place.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” the President stated publicly on his active Twitter account.
This has caused many star players in the NBA to join with the NFL, the two largest leagues contributing to this protest. Superstar LeBron James and hall-of-famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have also voiced their displeasure to what Trump is stating.
“Discrimination is not going to make us safer, and it’s not going to make America great,” Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview with CBS where he praised what Kaepernick is standing for.
Players in the NFL who are taking a knee in protest are also receiving a lot of backlash coming their way as well, which has led to lower NFL ratings and attendance.
What the public doesn’t seem to understand is that the league is nearly 70 per cent Black and all the owners are white.
This doesn’t mean the owners are racist, however, this leads the players to answer to either the carrot or the stick.
NFL contracts don’t have certain guarantees like other major sport leagues do, so players risk a lot more than just playing time if they decide to join in the act. They risk their jobs.
Some owners however, have expressed they have their players backs by joining in another form of protest, the act of linking arms on the field.
This trend started with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who supported Trump’s inauguration stated, “we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”
Many fans have made the decision to boycott NFL games with Trump’s approval, refusing to watch the games in the audience and on television. Fans have also been very vocal during the games by booing the kneeling players during the national anthem.
Trump has stated many times that this controversy is only about players disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the national anthem, but many fans and players comprehend that there is a racial inspiration with Trump and his supporters, as the division between races hasn’t seen this much tension in decades.
No matter the case, this controversy has separated Donald Trump from the world of sports in the United States and has now created a divide among athletes.