Trump’s Division Leads to Sports Unity

Trump’s Division Leads to Sports Unity

By Vittorio Travan 

In a week where president Donald Trump has divided the sporting landscape of America, sports leagues have shown a united front in a strong message of defiance.

On September 22 Mr. Trump gave a speech that called for team owners to fire any players who protest the national anthem.

Speaking at a rally for senate primary nominee, Luther Strange, President Trump launched an attack on NFL athletes who he said were disrespecting the flag.

In comments linked to athletes kneeling and protesting during the National Anthem at sporting games, President Trump called for owners to not tolerate the behavior anymore. The demonstrations began in 2016, with Colin Kaepernick bringing attention to the racial mistreatment of African Americans. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to the police brutality of African Americans.

During his speech, President Trump asked for NFL owners to fire any athlete that does not stop protesting and disrespecting the American flag and anthem.

“You know, some owner is going to say, ‘That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,” Mr Trump told supporters in Alabama.

His comments came just days after he uninvited Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry from visiting the White House, after he initially hesitated in accepting the traditional invitation for championship winning teams.

In response, NFL athletes portrayed a united front in a swift response to the President’s comments. Throughout the weekend’s games teams showed solidarity in openly protesting the anthem, with teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans staying in the locker rooms until the anthem was completed.

In a show of solidarity, over 200 NFL players actively protested the anthem by either kneeling, linking arms or raising their fists. When asked on his thoughts of creating division not only in sport but also along racial lines President Trump denied this when asked by reporters.

 “I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

However, the anthem protests started by former San Francisco quarter-back Colin Kaepernick  last year were linked to racial issues in America. During last season Kaepernick protested the police brutality being inflicted upon the African American population. The President’s comments contributed to the creation of a racial issue, with his comments criticizing the actions of African American athletes. Speaking in 2016 to NFL Media about his actions Kaepernick said,

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,”

The united display has also seen sporting figures who supported Mr Trump’s campaign come out and criticize his actions. New England Patriot’s quarter-back Tom Brady, a supporter of President Trump, spoke out during a radio interview denouncing the President’s actions as divisive and defended the players right to protest.

“It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about,” he said.

President Trump fired back against his critics on Twitter, saying if NFL players wanted the privilege of earning millions of dollars they should respect the flag and and the anthem. Despite wide spread action against Mr Trump’s comments, the President has continued to call for owners and fans to boycott to send a message against the protests. He says if fans send a message, this will bring swift change to the respect of the anthem.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

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