Guy W. Farmer: Mr. President: Don’t politicize sports
No sooner had you read my pro-Trump column last Sunday about the president’s feisty U.N. speech than President Trump reversed course yet again to pick a counter-productive fight with the immensely popular National Football League.
Only someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) could make such a tone-deaf political decision, which is exactly what the president did. And then he doubled-down on that bad decision by picking Twitter fights with basketball superstars Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Although most sports fans, including yours truly, are patriotic Americans who stand for the National Anthem, we also believe in the First Amendment and freedom of expression.
Trump started the NFL fight by calling on team owners to fire players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners … say, ‘Get that SOB off the field right now? You’re fired!’” Trump asked the crowd at a political rally in Alabama. He was there to support Senate candidate Luther Strange, who lost, but talked mostly about himself. So what else is new?
The reaction was massive and overwhelming as fans, players and team owners gathered together last Sunday to reject Trump’s perceived assault on our First Amendment freedoms. In other words, the president turned a sideshow into the main event. Even though I think players should stand for the anthem out of respect for our country, the flag and those who fight and die for it, I respect the First Amendment and think players who can’t or won’t stand for the anthem should remain in the locker room or the stadium tunnel while the anthem is played, as some of them did last Sunday.
I actually cheered the players, coaches and owners who linked arms in opposition to Trump while standing for the anthem. That’s what I would’ve done because they respected the anthem and our flag while opposing attacks on free speech.
Trump’s good friend, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, sided with his players.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president,” said Kraft, one of seven NFL owners who contributed at least $1 million to Trump’s presidential campaign last year. “I’m proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities,” helping to bring people together, he added.
Patriots’ star quarterback Tom Brady, another Trump friend, called the president’s comments “divisive” and linked arms with his teammates during the playing of the anthem last Sunday. Good for him!
The conservative Wall Street Journal, which supports many of Trump’s policies, summed up the controversy rather well in an editorial headlined “The Politicization of Almost Everything.” After blaming former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his progressive allies for “poisoning America’s favorite spectator sport,” the Journal commented as follows:
“Healthy democracies have ample room for politics but leave a larger space for civil society and culture that unites more than divides,” the Journal opined. “American democracy was healthier when politics at the ballpark was limited to booing politicians who threw out the first ball … but now some players want to be politicians and lecture other Americans. The losers are the millions of Americans who would rather cheer for their teams on Sunday,” leaving politics on the sidelines. Amen!
Trump should be talking and tweeting about issues that really matter like healthcare, national security and tax reform. Instead, however, he’s chosen to pick fights with the NFL, its owners and star players. Just one question: Isn’t it about time our president got his priorities straight?
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a lifelong sports fan.