Trump Selects His Next Enemies — the NBA and NFL
President Battles Pro Athletes
On Friday, Warriors guard Steph Curry told reporters he’d rather not attend the White House to commemorate the team’s 2017 NBA title. Curry is the latest pro athlete to speak out against the administration’s policies and rhetoric in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville. The President has received heavy criticism for failing to adequately condemn the white supremacists who instigated the violence.
Trump responded to Curry’s indecisiveness on early Saturday morning:
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The President didn’t stop his criticisms there. During a rally in Alabama before a Senatorial election, Trump took aim at the NFL. He said:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!”
Trump was referring to the movement started by former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. Last season, Kaepernick gained national attention for protesting during the national anthem against continued incidents of police brutality against people of color. At first, Kaepernick was alone, but after a few weeks, more players joined the #TakeAKnee movement. While most players were not punished for taking a knee, Kaepernick remains an unsigned free agent. His supporters believe he’s being “blackballed” by team owners for his political stance.
What Defines America?
Is it appropriate to protest the flag or our country’s anthem. Trump doesn’t think so and has shown a willingness to make more enemies over the issue. In the less than a year in office, Trump has riled against Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans. Many feel the “Make America Great Again” movement has encouraged renewed hatred and prejudice against non-whites. A Quinnipiac poll released in August 2017 found that 62 percent of voters say the President is doing more to divide the country. NBA players and the NFL responded loudly to Trump’s over the top criticisms. Lebron James said in a tweet on Saturday:
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
On Sunday, the NFL took their anger even further. Several NFL teams and executives knelt or locked arms in solidarity with players during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans made a louder statement by remaining in their locker rooms during pre-game ceremonies. Lost in the back and forth between the athletes and the President is the question of how do we define citizenry or patriotism?
Excuse us for getting overly political in this post, but we feel we are uniquely qualified to speak on the issue. While we haven’t served in the military, in another life, the head writer of First and Ten Sports worked for a U.S. Senator and a New York State representative. He has volunteered on several political campaigns and has written about and watched sports for over 20 years.
The President has gone too far and is picking a fight with athletes simply to ignite the passions of his dangerous voter base. America is more than a Pledge of Allegiance, an anthem, statues or ceremonial gestures. Trump’s worship of these symbols, including the Confederate flag, is his way of separating the population into two groups. Americans versus non-Americans. It’s just wrong.
America was founded on the concepts of free speech, freedom from persecution for personal beliefs, and equal rights under the law. Yes, the country has a history of slavery, white supremacy, suppression of women’s rights, and intolerance of the LGBTQIA community. But, our history does not define us. Since the Civil Rights and Woman’s movements of the 1960 and 70s, most Americans have evolved and want a society where every person is free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We applaud the NBA players and the NFL for taking a stand against Trump, intolerance, and bigotry.
The country is at a racial tipping point. It’s getting browner. An NPR story during the 2016 Presidential election reported that…”non-whites now make up a majority of kindergartners; by the next presidential election, the Census Bureau predicts they will be a majority of all children; and by 2044, no one racial group will be a majority of the country.” 70 percent of the NFL is African American, 75% of the NBA is black. The point is, how this ‘new America’ views race matters. Their opinions and beliefs have merit and must be respected. With his rhetoric against the NBA and NFL this weekend, the President has shown blind loyalty to the 40 percent of voters who got him elected instead of the whole country.
Change is difficult, but we must continue to fight. It would be incredible if NASCAR and its fan joined the #TakeAKnee movement. We are not singling them out based on stereotypes or the racial makeup of their traditional fans. It would be great if joined because we respect each other as Americans and it’s the right thing to do.
Richard Petty and Richard Childress two prominent NASCAR owners, threaten to fire any member of their racing teams that protest the national anthem.
Richard Petty said he would fire any employee that didn't stand for the anthem. https://t.co/tANM6yQSGP
— KENS 5 (@KENS5) September 24, 2017