President Donald Trump spoke at a rally in Alabama on Sept. 22 before Week 3 of the NFL season kicked off, he voiced his displeasure for those who knelt for the national anthem by saying that owners should “fire” those players who took a knee.
NFL players weren’t the only athletes Trump voiced his displeasure with. He later tweeted on Sept. 23 that he withdrew Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry’s invitation to the White House after the NBA star said he would vote against meeting the president. This led to LeBron James calling Trump a “bum” in a tweet.
The Warriors released a statement shortly after the debacle.
“While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We’re disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise. In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”
Never before has a President of the United States clashed with prominent athletes like Trump has in the past few weeks. A sitting President has never even clashed with an entire league like Trump has with the NFL. Some people like to keep sports and politics separate from one another. This is not the case with how President Trump went after the NFL.
What Trump fails to understand in all of this is that these players are not “disrespecting” the flag or this country, but are responding to racial inequality that they have faced. According to an article from VICE from 2015, African-American players make up 70 percent of the NFL.
Most teams stood and locked arms during Week 3, but other players around the league chose to kneel during the anthem. The Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room while the anthem played.
Baseball saw a player of African-American descent kneel in protest of Trump’s actions as well when Bruce Maxwell, catcher for the Oakland Athletics took a knee on Sept. 23.
“The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military, it’s not to disrespect our Constitution, it’s not to disrespect this country,” Maxwell said after he knelt late last month. “My hand over my heart symbolizes the fact that I am and I’ll forever be an American citizen, and I’m more than grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don’t have a voice.”
This all comes on the heels of Trump trying to rationalize and sympathize with white nationalists who rallied in Charlottesville in August.
“You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest – because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit,” Trump said to the press at Trump Tower. “The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: there are two sides to a story.”
Instead of condemning bigotry in this situation, Trump said there were some “fine” people involved at the rally. But when players peacefully kneel to protest racial inequality, they’re “sons of bitches” who need to be fired?
For Trump, who has seen Houston, Miami and Puerto Rico devastated by major hurricanes over the last two months as well as the deadliest mass shooting in United States history earlier this week, tweeting about athletes failing to kneel should be at the bottom of his list of concerns.
How are we supposed to feel united when the President of the United States has had such a large effect in dividing us Americans?