#TakeAKnee... The World of Sports Strikes Back
President Trump has been known to put his foot in his mouth throughout the course of his campaign and subsequent presidency. After calling NFL protesters "SOBs," he may have bitten off more than he can chew because the sports world is striking back.
As we are probably all aware by now, last Friday President Donald Trump gave a speech in the state of Alabama. From “little rocket man,” to the president chastising the media for accusations of “hounding the first lady over her shoes,” this speech included many tidbits and factoids, the majority of which we already heard throughout his animated run to the presidency. The unheard notions spewed weren’t that unfamiliar either as he touted his victories throughout the election, and other scenarios that were of course centered around making him look like a rockstar. He spoke of the “wall,” which is inevitably going to happen based on our president's rhetoric, but he also said some other things.
The president would then take aim at the National Football League, its players, and its owners. In his speech he asked, “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!'” This remark not only set off a firestorm in the crowd, which erupted with cheers as if the president had taken the words right from their lips, but it set off a firestorm on social media, in the sports world, and subsequently all across NFL stadiums nationwide.
There were many responses to the President's words from all across the professional sports landscape, with one being Golden State Warrior Steph Curry. Curry would indicate the when the time was nigh, he would decline an invitation to the White House at that moment. In response to Curry’s statement, President Trump would then declare Curry uninvited. This would only start a snowball effect as you would then go on to have athletes and sports figures from all across the landscape chime in. These perspectives would range from Chris Paul to Charles Barkley, with perhaps the most influential chime coming from the best basketball player on Earth, “The Chosen One,” LeBron James. In statements from James, he is on record calling the president a “bum,” and saying that “visiting the White House was a honor until you showed up,” brash words from the three time NBA champion.
Not only did the NBA display their solidarity and support, the NHL and the MLB had players step up to the cause. NHL and Winnipeg Jets player Blake Wheeler took to Twitter to express his opinion. The MLB also joined the party, albeit a one man celebration. Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s knelt and said he will continue to do so, even amongst the hate, slurs, and disapproval from fans.
Following in the footsteps of their professional sports brethren, the actual NFL players in question would have their chances on Sunday to show their support for not only Kaepernick, but the cause he knelt for. At the same time, NFL players would be able to oppose the further divisive comments of our president. From the Ravens to the Redskins, yesterday saw solidarity amongst its league. You had a lot of players and teams, who hadn’t knelt before, kneel in order to show support. You had teams and team owners, see the Jaguars' Khan or the Vikings' Wilf, locking arms in unity to not only show that they support each other and had each other's backs, but that this whole thing is a family and that not one player, or “SOB” according to the president, would be left out in the cold.
Even for those squads that didn’t “show” anything, they proved a point and a message. Some will take it the wrong way, and some have, but even Mike Tomlin, the Steelers, and other organizations that chose not to come out of the locker room for the anthem have to be applauded. Their reasoning was so that they didn’t have to make any one or set of players “choose,” and that lessens divisiveness. Regardless of whether they actively protested or not, they did not participate in the President's “divisive rhetoric” which, even if not a proactive victory, it’s not a lost and has to be appreciated.
My take is simple. The president is more about pleasing certain sects of people as opposed to the greater good of us all. Regardless of what he said, why did he say it? He said it in order to garner the very response that he did out of the audience he was “entertaining." It also begs one to ask of the intelligence of the audience. What type of America is it when we don’t have “freedom of speech?” Was it not this “freedom of speech” that allowed him to make such stupid comments? Was it not the freedom of speech of the unoppressed that allowed for the legal oppression of those that have been oppressed for so long? Often times we are so caught up in our agenda’s that we don’t realize that the things we are opposing are often rights we have fought to capitalize on, have, or use. When these same people are out protesting “gun rights,” “better jobs,” or “Obamacare,” where are their morals then? Why is it OK to speak your mind then and not now? That leads me to believe that it isn’t about one speaking his or her mind, but another underlying factor. As it is the elephant in all rooms right now, I won't specifically detail it, but we all know what it is. With that, I will leave you with this thought: Are things really that much simpler when it’s plainly black and white?