Trump on Sports

By Adam Przeslak, sports editor

To understand why the president’s relationship with sports is the way it is, we must first dive into Trump’s history with the sporting world, specifically football. Trump attempted to purchase an NFL team in the 1980s but was outbid. He then purchased the New Jersey Generals, a United States Football League team, and immediately kick-started a campaign within the USFL to compete head-to-head in the fall with the NFL. At the time the USFL held their regular season in spring as not to be overshadowed in viewership by the more popular NFL in the fall. The USFL was not prepared for such an uphill battle and failed miserably within a few years.

From the very beginning Trump’s USFL endeavours were less about the USFL and more about the NFL. Trump wanted a gold-paved path into ownership of an NFL team, and he saw an unclear path within the USFL by way of a merger that would either result in a buyout or owning a USFL-turned NFL team. His efforts resulted in pushing the USFL to extinction after an antitrust lawsuit filed against the NFL. A judge found the NFL guilty of violating anti-monopoly laws and awarded the USFL a whopping $3. That’s right, a single dollar bill was to be rewarded as restitution but was then tripled because of antitrust regulations.

This left Trump furious with the NFL because, despite his best efforts and millions of dollars spent, he could not get what he wanted. I think these feelings are still harbored away in the back of Trump’s mind and finally emerged in the public eye when he decried Colin Kaepernick’s protest.

Colin Kaepernick and Marshawn Lynch

Kaepernick has spearheaded a series of protests by NFL players and some athletes of other sports by first sitting then kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick made it clear from the very beginning that his protests were regarding police brutality and unfair treatment toward minorities by police and not disrespecting veterans or the United States Armed Forces. Trump and other conservatives still took Kaepernick’s purpose and ran away with it, making it all about something that it was not.

On the campaign trail then-candidate Trump said, when asked about Kaepernick, “I think it’s a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try it, it’s not gonna happen.” Trump really drew from the voice of his conservative colleagues on this response by utilizing the old “if you don’t like it, get out” argument.

He further planted his feet in the ground when, as the sitting president, he cut into other players in support of the now-jobless Kaepernick’s cause when 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, out, he’s fired.’”

First of all, no. Just no. The protests had a clear motive and reason from day one, none of which included disrespecting the flag. Forced patriotism isn’t really patriotism anyway – just ask North Korea.

As the 2017 NFL regular season continues to play out, and other players continue to protest, another player has stepped forward into the scope of our president: Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, in the NFL’s annual game played in Mexico City, sat for the United State’s national anthem but stood for Mexico’s. Lynch’s actions are justified. Why would he sit for the national anthem of a country that he doesn’t live in and, obviously, doesn’t have a problem with police brutality, like the African American community?

Bounding after basketball players

Trump doesn’t just focus on football, however. One of his most recent sports moments included three college basketball players. Three UCLA players recently got caught stealing from a high-end fashion store in China and were in the custody of the Chinese government. Trump claimed to have talked with authorities in China on negotiating the release of the young men. However, many experts on US-China relations stated that even before Trump’s intervention the Chinese government had planned on releasing the players.

Once the players were released and stateside again, Trump took to Twitter to berate the already embarrassed players about whether he’d receive a thank you or not. The Nov. 15 tweet read: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” They most certainly were not headed for 10 years in a Chinese prison. Trump’s cries were heard and the three players held a press conference the same day where they did indeed thank President Trump. One of the UCLA players was LiAngelo Ball, the son of famous sports dad LaVar Ball who is known for his outlandish behavior and also being the father of NBA rookie Lonzo Ball and high school standout LaMelo Ball.

LaVar, in an odd interview with CNN, questioned that the Trumpster even helped his son get out of China and refused to thank him at all. The President then responded with an early morning tweet storm.

Here’s my favorite quote from said tweet storm: “It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME.”

Yes, that’s real and yes, that’s from the president of the United States. How self-centered and fascist of him to discredit the White House and State Department so quickly while glorifying himself as this god-like figure that swooped in to save the day. This is far from traditional behavior of a typical sitting president.

Speaking of traditional, it has been a tradition in our country for championship sports teams and athletes to be invited to the White House for a sit-down and photo-op with the presiding President. This has been no different during Trump’s presidency except that some teams and athletes have refused the offer. The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors were offered such a visit by the Trump administration and Warriors player Stephen Curry spoke on the topic during a press conference.

“That we don’t stand for… the things that he said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times,” Curry said when asked on what statement the Warriors were trying to make by hesitating to accept the president’s offer.

In typical Trump fashion the president then tweeted that because of Curry’s hesitation the Warriors had been uninvited. NBA players across the league united with Curry to combat the president’s ferocious tweet.

Well, as a member of the sports media, I think it’s nice to actually have a President so involved with sports. I must say, I doubted then-candidate Trump was going to be THIS involved in the sporting world as president.

“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” said Trump on the 2016 campaign trail.

Obama played basketball in his free time and “played golf on the taxpayer’s dime” as Fox News, other conservative outlets and even Trump himself cried aloud for eight years of the Obama presidency, yet all remain silent on Trump’s plethora of golf trips during his short time in office.

According to Politico, by Nov. 13 in the first year of their presidencies Obama had golfed 24 times and Trump had golfed 35 times. Oh, and those were just the times the Trump administration openly admitted that the president was on the green. This White House has gone to extreme efforts to hide the president’s golf habits from the public eye.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Przeslak says:

    Adam we are so proud of you! Your insight is amazing.

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