President Donald Trump has set his attention on overseeing the recent developments in the professional sporting world. It started with him calling to NFL owners to respond to their player’s actions, who were peacefully protesting the national anthem, to terminate their contracts… in a league where the player population is about 70%, Black players.
At his pseudo-campaign rally, he even went as far to call the protesters “sons of bitches”, insinuating NFL owners should whip their players back onto their feet. Several owners have shot back with either powerful or flimsy statement coming out against the rhetoric the President is using, while several players claim it’s being used to create a divide between the players and the fans.
No message went louder than Jerry Jones’. At first, sports commentators thought he would go silent on the issue. But on Monday night primetime he walked out on the field before the anthem with his entire team in locked arms and took a knee. Against the roar of boo’s radiating from the stands of the Arizona Cardinals’ fans. Jones intended to demonstrate unity between those who feel the need to protest and those who support them but won’t protest the flag so directly. During the anthem, few players on the Cowboys took the knee, and most stood in respect.
If that wasn’t enough President Trump felt the need to make his pettiness go viral. When asked if he would visit the White House along with his team, 2x MVP Steph Curry said online he was not interested in the traditional meeting between championship teams and the President. President Trump in his usual fashion went to twitter 20 minutes after a Fox News segment covering Curry’s “ingratitude”. He shot the tweet out saying, “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”.
It’s doubtful this affected Stephen personally, but it’s interesting Trump addressed Curry specifically and not the organization since he uninvited them all.
Even more interesting is that LeBron James, the Warriors principal rival, ‘shot indirectly at Trump. With little restraint, he called the President a “bum”, and proceeded to say that, “Going to White House was an honor until you showed up”.
Perhaps Trump really doesn’t care about the silent protest. Maybe he’s just barking at the mailman. It doesn’t take a whizkid to understand owners wouldn’t be able to fire players over their protests, let alone survive the media lash out that would follow. Perhaps he’s just saying these things to gain back favor with his base following obvious frustration because of his inability to accomplish anything but ruin reputations, and divide his followers from the rest of the country.
But perhaps not.
But during his rally, he lent the public a little more insight into his “patriotic” stance.
Trump, following the wild cheers following his previous statement. Went on to say, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect. … our [Country] and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”. Which is a fair point, don’t bite the hand.
(If you’re unclear about the exact message of the kneeling protest, check out this article about the snowball Colin Kaepernick got rolling)
But I pose this, in the last 5 years of watching news segment after news segment of young Black Americans being murdered in American cities for seemingly little reason by “respectable” police officers- and the roots of the problems have neither been addressed or really acknowledged by most politicians. With all the marches and demonstrations nothing has caught the attention of Americans quite like these protests. Regardless of your stance on this issue, at least it makes the discourse unavoidable.