Trump vs. athletes’s knees

If you live in the U.S., you’ll know all about the football protests yesterday, when dozens of coaches and players either refused to appear for the traditional playing of the National Anthem or went down on one knee instead of standing erect. (You can read a comprehensive report in the New York Times.) This was a mass protest against Donald Trump’s hamhanded call to fire players who don’t “respect” the flag and the anthem.  Well, the reaction was predictable: although owners can indeed fire those players, the original going down on the knee, started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, constituted sincere demonstrations of speech against bigotry. It’s a crime that that after Kaepernick didn’t renew his contract, no other team will touch him, but his playing hasn’t been stellar in the last few seasons. However, in the end Kaepernick’s protest has swelled, and has done so because Trump tried to demonize him and others who spoke out against bigotry. (This isn’t really “free speech” in the First Amendment sense since football teams are privately owned, and players don’t have a right to demonstrate on the field any way they want. But the owners, managers, and players, consider it “free speech” in the sense that such demonstrations shouldn’t be punished.)

Here’s one example of how Trump really can’t control himself:

Although many football players are black and thus not fans of Trump, yesterday’s demonstrations included dozens of white players and coaches, all standing up for the right to not stand up. True, many fans were peeved by what they saw as a denigration of America, but really, what does America stand for except for the right to dissent? And many fans were supportive.

What we saw yesterday was not a bunch of academic liberals decrying Trump, but a bunch of athletes, engaged in one of America’s favorite sports, defying our President. I’m often wrong about politics, but I’ll say that this is a watershed moment in Trump’s continuing loss of credibility.  When Walter Cronkite came out against the war, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” I’ll paraphrase those words by saying that “If Trump loses football, he’s lost Middle America.”

133 Comments

  1. Posted September 25, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Not so sure about that. His base and concentric circles out from that base will love his hammering these privileged athletes. See Ben Shapiro recent talk on how it’s all culture wars.
    And, By the way, they are protesting the wrong thing. There are greater issues in black communities than police bigotry.
    I’m Aussie and no fan of Trump ( for the record).

  2. Frank
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure this will be a watershed moment, akin to the Cronkite/Vietnam episode. While he has lost support from many football players (and, as you say, for many he never had their support), I suspect football fans will remain polarized as Trump supporters vs. non-supporters. His jingoistic supporters might in fact respond by digging in their heels, and take this as further evidence that we need a President just like Trump. I hope I am wrong, but I fear that a sizable fraction of Trump supporters will never see his deep flaws, as both a President and a human being.

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      He’ll never lose his core supporters but there are many who voted other reasons that agreement with the man’s views (many simply because they hated Hillary). These softer supporters are already regretting their votes. This can only pour fuel on it and we should be thankful that Cheeto in Chief is doing it to himself.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      My hope would be that it gives Americans with voters remorse an emotionally palatable excuse on which to blame their defection.

    • somer
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      +1 I can’t see trump supporters being fazed by this sort of thing; most don’t like blacks and as Forbes said they’ll love to see these athletes as overpaid; automatically dislike liberal protests and most of them loathe the mainstream media and liberal causes anyway

  3. Adrian
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    When the leader and commander-in-chief of arguably the most powerful and richest of the world’s nations has nothing better to do than demand the sacking of sportsmen, the rest of us get very worried indeed.

    I wonder how Tr*mp would react to the tradition in British cinemas of rushing for the exit during the credits before the National Anthem came on? Nuke the Odeon?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile, the three and a half million American citizens of Puerto Rico are in desperate straits due to hurricane Maria, and this president (who’s never heretofore shown the slightest inclination toward patriotism) takes to twitter to bitch about athletes supposedly “disrespecting” our flag.

      This, from the guy who disrespects gold-star families and said John McCain wasn’t a hero because he got captured in North Vietnam. Lebron’s right; Trump’s a bum. Fuck him.

    • RPGNo1
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Or think about the most popular sports in Europe: Association football or soccer (for all US-fans ;)).
      The national anthems are played prior to international matches. But many players choose not to sing along, but to concentrate, to pray silently or remember the tactics.

    • eric
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes I believe one of the athletes even tweeted something like that. Something like “Good to know the President of the US is focusing on our biggest problems: black athletes protesting the national anthem.”

    • Posted September 26, 2017 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      The Anthem Sprinters by Ray Bradbury, and featuring Deanna Durbin

  4. Claudia Baker
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    It’s mind boggling to watch the antics of this so-called president. Has he no shame? Apparently not.

  5. biz
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Another possible outcome is that the NFL, not Trump, will be the one to lose America over this.

    This weekend many fans walked away and stayed away. It is unprecedented to see empty seats in a big-city NFL stadium where tickets are over $100 and need to be purchased months if not years in advance, but that is exactly what happened, even at Levis Stadium in the SF Bay Area this weekend.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-attendance-down-2017-9

    It will be interesting to see the viewership numbers when they come out as well. Overall, ESPN has lost over 1/4 of its market share since the NFL protests and ESPN’s own politicization started last year.

    I oppose Trump vehemently, and don’t really follow pro sports, but even I am disgusted by pampered athletes turning what should be a non-political and uniting past time into yet another partisan wank-fest. These people are getting paid millions to play a game and be cheered by adoring fans – the least they could do is shut up and honor our country for a few minutes.

    The NFL is on thin ice as it is, as the concussion scandal grows. If Middle America concludes that these million dollar players and billion dollar owners despise them, it could be game over.

    • GBJames
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      I don’t think it will work out that way. Football is too deeply engrained in American culture, especially among conservatives. They may stay away for a game or two but that won’t last.

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Yes but there’s a big universe of football out there. To some degree the NFL, college, and high school all compete for the same interest pool.

        • Rita
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          You will see more players and coaches from all of those, so the football fans who don’t understand the protest may have to sit down & shut up unless they want to give up football.

    • XCellKen
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Isn’t the playing of the National Anthem before every game in and of itself a “political” act

      • BobTerrace
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Absolutely political and doesn’t belong as part of a game. The players were not even on the field until 2009 when the military started paying the NFL for the players to be out there during the anthem.

        • Posted September 26, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Psychological warfare begins at home, I guess.

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 29, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

            Great comment!

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Well it is arguably political but unlike these protests, it isn’t partisan.

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Your insistence that they must “shut up and honor our country” is one more reason I am supportive of them and their defiance.

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        What are they defying and whose minds are they changing?

        • Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          You can ask that question of any protest movement; your intent is to call into question the effectiveness of the protest.

          But that dog don’t hunt. The problem I had with your comment is not one of effective protest. You seem to be suggesting that citizens should just shut up and honor their country.

          Balls to that. We should only honor the country when it does honorable things, and anyways we should never shut up. About anything.

          Even when if I don’t agree -especially if I don’t agree- with a protest, we have the right and sometimes an obligation to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          • biz
            Posted September 25, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            You’ve set up a silly strawman. Neither I nor even Trump have disputed their -right- to protest. I do dispute the wisdom, appropriateness, and message of their protest, which is also my right.

            • Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

              So when you said; “These people are getting paid millions to play a game and be cheered by adoring fans – the least they could do is shut up and honor our country for a few minutes.”

              and I criticize you for suggesting citizens should “just shut up and honor our country” I’m constructing a straw man?

              Done with you.

              • biz
                Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

                You are still profoundly confusing three things:

                1) People’s First Amendment speech rights when it comes to government censure

                2) People’s speech rights when it comes to employer censure when the speech happens during the course of their work

                3) Regardless of the right to an expressive activity, whether that activity is appropriate or just, and whether others have a right to ridicule.

                It seems that you are determined to remain confused on these distinctions.

        • Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          They are defying the mind set that says, because they are highly paid, they must not express an opinion. They are defying the mindset that elevates a song to sacred status and would have people punished for acting freely during the playing of a song that ironically describes the USA as the “land of the free”.

    • enl
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      The NFL management really doesn’t much care, as, when people walk out, they have already paid for the tickets. The big money is in advertising, and I doubt there will be a large effect there, as these people likely will watch the game anyway and likely already bought the souvenirs.

      On the other hand, this could hasten the inevitable decline of the football-industrial complex, which I am ambivalent about.

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        The point is not the direct financial hit from ticket sales. It is that if people are willing to forgo $200 tickets that they had to wait months to get, they may be willing to forgo purchasing licensed merchandise or watching games on TV.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Heaven forfend that millionaires should ever protest in solidarity with the less fortunate. One man’s “wank-fest” is another man’s principled stand, I guess.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Empty seats at Levi’s Stadium reflect two things that are not true of the NFL as a whole:
      (1) the 49ers are not doing well (they’re improving, but they have a long way to go); and
      (2) the stadium is an oven if you’re sitting on the sunny side.

    • eric
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      I have never understood – and still don’t – why folks like you or your characterization of ‘Middle America’ takes it as a personal insult – a sign that a player despises them, in your words – to not stand for the Anthem.

      That seems incredibly vain to me. ‘You probably think this kneeling is about you’ sort of vain. Yes, the player is making a political statement. And true, you may agree or disagree with it or wish they’d just shut up and play football. But do you truly think you personally are the person they’re sending the message to?

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:05 am | Permalink

        + 1

        At least he refrained from using “uppity.”

  6. Josh Lincoln
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately this is very much about race, as multiple NASCAR owners and drivers have come out strongly in favor of Trump’s comments.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Yeah, well, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr., tweeted out a quote today from JFK that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

      Let the NASCAR owners stuff that in their tail pipes and smoke it.

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      It doesn’t stand to reason that because a white person takes a contrary stance on something, that the issue is “very much about race.”

  7. BobTerrace
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    “If Trump loses football, he’s lost Middle America.”

    But not the ‘sport’ of NASCAR where his base watch cars go round and round while they display confederate flags on their cars in the parking lot.

    I also want to comment that I support Kaepernick, but he is not a great quarterback.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      Lemme see, NASCAR – beloved as you say of the Confederate faction. And here they are getting their tits in a tangle over alleged disrespect for Old Glory.

      Gotta love the irony.

      cr

  8. XCellKen
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Kaepernick is a great player?

    Hardly. THAT is why he hasn’t been signed. Great players get away with just about anything. Mediocre, or less, not so much. Who needs the distraction from a nominal player who can be easily replaced by a non controversial [player ???

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I just looked up his record and was disappointed; it wasn’t what I thought. I don’t follow football much and that’s what I heard. I’ve changed it, thanks.

    • johnw
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Kaepernick’s career has been a mixed bag, but at times he has been excellent. In his seasons with Jim Harbaugh as head coach he was very good and his career passer rating is actually 17th all time, better than some hall of famers. His last two seasons weren’t great, but that can happen to QBs as their performance is often directly related to the O line and other skill positions around them.
      But, compared to a normal person, he is a great athlete. Most NFL players are.

    • eric
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      538 did an analysis of length of free agency vs. QB rating. While Kapernick may not be one of the best QBs around, for his skill level his lack of a contract is still quite unusual.

  9. johnw
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    This situation is not Trump being unable to control himself, this is a completely intentional appeal to white grievance identity politics, the foundation of Trump’s support. High profile African American athletes are the perfect target for him and he will periodically return to this theme again and again. White chauvinism types in the US have accepted successful black athletes as sports icons, provided they know their place and keep to it. I see this as just further reinforcing the deep social divisions that exist in the US.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes. A tweet yesterday goes something like, “Is there any protest Blacks can make that’s acceptable to White supremacists?”

  10. @eightyc
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Kaeperdick a great player?? hahahah That statement is the equivalent of a creationist claiming that Evolution is just a “theory”. lolz

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      See Jerry’s response in the 2nd comment in thread 8, above.

  11. @eightyc
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    lolz before you pontificate on a topic you know nothing about, why don’t you first review the stats on the so-called system police shooting of blacks.

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      I’m interested. Can you point me at statistics of police shooting blacks, compared to police shooting whites?

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I don’t have a link to the study handy but a while back Sam Harris did a podcast with a Glen Loury where they briefly referenced the stats that nationwide, per police encounter, a white suspect is more likely to be killed than a black suspect.

        https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/racism-and-violence-in-america

        • Posted September 25, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          What about for traffic stops only?

          • Posted September 25, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

            I could be wrong, but the study Harris may have been referring may be this one; http://policingequity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/CPE_SoJ_Race-Arrests-UoF_2016-07-08-1130.pdf.

            One finding of it is this (figure2 & table 6);

            “….the mean use of force rate for Black citizens was higher than that for White citizens in all categories, save the use of lethal force, when controlling for arrests for all offenses.”

            Whites were almost twice as likely (0.64/1000 vs 0.37/1000) to be the victims of lethal force.

            They do not distinguish traffic stops from all stops.

            • Posted September 25, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

              So what if whites are only stopped – or are more likely to be stopped – whilst committing serious offences in which lethal force is more likely to happen.

              For example, suppose people caught committing armed robbery were routinely shot to death and 100 white people were caught during armed robbery and hence shot and 100 white people were stopped for running a red light and not shot, your rate of shooting is 50%. However, if 190 black people were stopped for running a red light and 40 got shot, but only 10 were involved in armed robbery and got shot, your rate of shooting is only 25% for blacks. However, I think we would both agree there is a problem of racism with those figures.

        • bbenzon
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          Loury’s said similar things on Bloggingheads.tv with John McWhorter. I forget just which episode, but here’s a general link for anyone who wants to search for it:

          https://bloggingheads.tv/programs/current/glenn-show

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      It’s not about “shooting of blacks”, it’s about shooting of unarmed blacks. And then getting away scott-free time and time again.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        It’s also about the long history (very much with us still) of disparate treatment by police departments of the black population. There’s not an African-American in this nation doesn’t know what it means to be stopped for “driving while black.”

        • Mark R.
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          Indeed.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:09 am | Permalink

          Sadly, I’m sure that’s the case.

  12. bbenzon
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I think you’re right about this, Jerry. This is important stuff but it’s hard to see how it’ll work out. As biz posted above, the NFL is a bit shaky these days and many fans don’t support the players on this. Also, the NFL’s been getting hammered on brain injury.

    I did a little digging and discovered, interestingly enough, that Congress didn’t make “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem until 1931, long after it had become established at baseball stadiums. And that practice got started accidentally in game 1 of the 1918 when Babe Ruth was pitching for the Red Sox.

    I’ve put this stuff together into a post of my own, Over the weekend the Nacirema Nationals trounced the Trumptastic Bombers.

  13. davidintoronto
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    As far as expressions of protest go, genuflection isn’t exactly flag burning. If kneeling is good enough for God then, by gum, it should be good enough for the USA!

  14. enl
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    A concern that I have isn’t the effect on football and the posturing, but the initial premise that the national anthem is the point, and that an anthem and the flag– a physical object– are, in and of themselves, what anyone should be concerned with. The president swears to protect and defend the Constitution, not the flag. The constitution says nothing about a flag, nor an anthem, and I would guess the founders would question the competence of a president who doesn’t understand this.

  15. Historian
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The playing of the national anthem at sporting events in the United States goes back about 100 years as has been noted. Although different people may attribute different meaning and significance to this, its primary purpose is to serve as one element in a strategy to quell dissent against the ruling elite. This does not apply to just the U.S., but to all nations. It serves the ruling elite for the masses to equate fervent ardor for sports with patriotism. If the masses think that rooting for a team is somehow an act of patriotism then their attention and emotions will be diverted from challenging the status quo. Spectator sports, whether professional or college, is an extremely conservative institution and is why in the United States the business interests support them with great zeal. The association of sports with religion also reinforces its conservative nature. Do not expect the playing of the national anthem or other nationalistic songs (such as God Bless America, which was played at several venues such as Yankee Stadium after September 11, 2001) to disappear any time soon.

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Playing the national anthem at a sporting event between two American teams seems rather weird. In the UK we only get an anthem when the national team is playing another nation.

      • eric
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        At hockey games, if a US team is playing a Canadian team they’ll play both anthems. But now you’ve made me curious what they’d do if two Canadian teams played each other in a US arena. 🙂

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Well, the Yanks fetishize their flag and their anthem (or so it seems to an outsider).

        My understanding is that, at a British football match, the song is more likely one of local tradition like ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

        cr

  16. Posted September 25, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I would like to think that the Vulgarian would have a Johnsonian moment of clarity, but his current record in that department is null.

    As others have noted, the agents of violence and peacocking in public sports have, in this demonstration, shown great dignity and grace, in the main. The Squatter-in-Chief has shown none.

  17. mfdempsey1946
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    “Winter is icummen in,
    Lhude sing Goddamm.” (Ezra Pound)

    For “Winter,” substitute Fascism.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      If memory serves, old Ezra suffered his own bout of Fascism while enjoying Mussolini’s Italian hospitality.

  18. Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    trump knows a thing or two about convincing fans to stop attending football games.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Hell, he drove the whole (now-defunct) USFL over the cliff with his ill-advised antitrust suit.

      • Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        His egotistical decision rush competing directly with the NFL season is the main reason the USFL is defunct. Everything he touches turns to a substance that’s … not gold.

  19. Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    “If Trump loses football, he’s lost Middle America.” Someday Middle America will learn that most of them elected a golf-shackled, gold-plated toilet loving city dweller who has no interest in dusty farms or coal mines or gridiron athletes.

  20. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    My facebook feed was full of more conservative Canadians complaining that those “taking the knee” were cowards and that they were denigrating soldiers who gave their lives for their posh lifestyle.

    Good grief – irony much?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Point them to the words of Nate Boyer,the former US Army Green Beret who served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan (and former Seattle Seahawks’ ballplayer) who wholeheartedly supports the players’ right to protest.

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Nobody disputes the players’ “right” to protest. What people are rightly disputing the appropriateness and message of that protest.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          “Nobody” obviously doesn’t include president Donald Trump, who says the “sons of bitches” protesting should be “you’re fired” from from playing in the NFL.

          • biz
            Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            The First Amendment protects speech against government censure. It has limits when it comes to protecting employees from employer censure for speech issues related to their job or place of employment.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

              I haven’t the foggiest why you think I or any of the other regular commenters here are confused about the First Amendment. We’re not; it has nothing to say about non-governmental restrictions on speech.

              As far as the 1A is concerned, the owners could make the players sing the Star-Spangled Banner or pledge allegiance to the flag or, hell, recite the Lord’s Prayer or Kaddish before games if they so chose. But, at least since the demise of the reserve clause in professional sports contracts (which bound players to a single team for life), there’s been a growing acceptance by team owners that professional athletes should be treated as freedmen rather than surfs. That’s why the NFL owners — among the most hidebound gangs in the nation, many of whom donated big bucks to Trump — have generally sided with the players in this dispute, recognizing that, when it comes to such matters as the National Anthem, they’re entitled to a right of conscience. The only ones confused about this seem to be you and Donald Trump.

              The argument you’re making here is the same one heard from reactionaries in the Sixties when athletes like Bill Russell and Jim Brown and Cassius Clay and Lew Alcindor spoke out about Civil Rights: that the uppity ingrates should shut up and be thankful they live in a country that lets them make a living playing kids’ games.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

                That’s “serfs,” not “surfs.” Guess I had the Beach Boys on my mind again.

              • darrelle
                Posted September 26, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

                +1

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:15 am | Permalink

                +2

  21. Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Trump acts in this manner for the obvious reason that he intends to divide rather than unite. A more subtle reason, however, is his refusal to educate himself on real political issues. For example, does he have an actual health care policy beyond “Obamacare bad?” What about a real tax code revision policy with specifics? A way to control Iran’s nuclear goals beyond “Nuclear Treaty is an embarrassment?” The man is either too lazy or intellectually stunted to learn and study and develop ideas on what really matters and hence he tweets about NFL players kneeling before a football game. I am so disheartened that he is my President

    • Rita
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Trump’s tax code policy is simple: If it helps him or his family & friends, he’s all for it.

  22. William Krueger
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately our band of bigots here in east Texas are railing against the players.

    Bill

  23. Stanislaw Pak
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    So if the players can say what they want, why Trump cannot tweet that he disagrees? He is certainly not giving an order to anyone to fire these players.

    And I agree that tweeting is not the best way for US President to communicate with the People. But that aside.

    • eric
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      if the players can say what they want, why Trump cannot tweet that he disagrees?

      He can…and we can judge both the players and the president for their choice of action. On balance, IMO the President comes of looking much worse.

      First there’s the question of how they voice their protest. Silently taking a knee for the anthem is pretty reserved, pretty passive all things considered (if the media didn’t make a thing of it, very few people would even know they were doing it). Calling people ‘bastards’ in a political speech is not. So the President comes off looking less dignified and mature than the players in his choice of how to express his opinion.

      Then there’s the content of that opinion. The players are protesting against what they see as heavyhanded policing of minorities. The President is protesting a bunch of US citizens voicing their political opinion in public. Again, IMO the President comes off looking much worse in that comparison. Even if one thinks there is no police brutality and the ‘black lives matter’ movement has it wrong, we should all be able to agree that ‘police brutality’ is something worth opposing when it happens, while Americans voicing a political opinion is frankly something nobody should be opposing. It’s a social good, not a social evil.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:17 am | Permalink

        Well said.

  24. Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand why kneeling is disrespectful. Republicans go on about kneeling before God. If it is good enough for God, it should be good enough for the flag.

    • biz
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Because it is a tradition to stand for the national anthem and taking a knee is to avoid standing.

      • Craw
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        It is OSTENTATIOUSLY disrepectful. That’s why it matters. I’m Canadian but I live in the USA. I just stand silently for your anthem, I never sing, I never put my hand on my heart. I do this because that’s what simple politeness demands. To take a knee would be an overt act meant as a rejection and hence be rude. I don’t blow raspberries when the in-laws say grace either, I just sit quietly.

        Know who else is ostentatiously rude? The Westboro Baptists. Ostentatious rudeness is a bad look folks.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, it’s rude all right — nearly as rude as a Jew by the name of Steven Engle refusing to say the Lord’s Prayer in public school, or Rosa Parks refusing to take her seat in the back of the bus.

          You wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs, rude as that may be.

          • Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

            Dang! Ninja’d again.

        • Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          Well yes, of course it is disrespectful. Good gravy, that’s the whole point. It was disrespectful of a black woman to sit at the front of the bus too or for black men to sit at lunch counters. It was disrespectful to march against the Vietnam war or to occupy public parks or to chain yourself to the doors of a building or stand still and stop a column of tanks. The whole point of protest is to protest.

          These athletes (and that is what they are, despite your scare quotes) are saying, in effect- “we’ve been standing here for generations being respectful and not blowing raspberries. We aren’t going to take it anymore”.

          • biz
            Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            Yes, and it was also disrespectful for those Neo-Nazis to march through Charlottesville chanting “Jew will not replace us.” Did that make their cause just, like Rosa Parks, as well.

            You’ve confused similarity of methods with worthiness of cause.

            • Craw
              Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

              And, what cause? What are the actual complaints, demands, allegations? Vapor. It’s just showing disrespect as a form of group identity signalling.

              The comparison to Parks is silly. She didn’t sit in the front of the bus to imply America isn’t good enough for the likes of her. She did it to challenge an unjust law directed against her.

        • eric
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          It has become tradition at Chicago Blackhawks games to scream during the national anthem, drowning it out. And this practice has nothing to do with the BLM movement, it started decades ago.

          So are you saying Blackhawks fans are as rude as the Westboro Baptists?

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:19 am | Permalink

            Not as, but what a-holes nonetheless!

  25. Randy schenck
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I have never been a flag waver and find it rather demeaning. Most of the really big flag wavers are people who never served or did much of anything. Trump would be one of those. Every sport in America has this tradition of doing the anthem prior to the event. It must be some form of connect between sports and so-called patriots. It sells and it stinks of commercialism. As someone said earlier, if it is in the U.S. and both teams are U.S., what the hell?

    Even Trump’s connection to the idea that failure to stand for the song/music is degrading to the military is a joke. People may have all kinds of reasons to demonstrate in this way and the right to do this is respect for all people who actually may have fought or died for the country. So, as usual, he does not know what he is talking about and should be fired.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Like Dick Cheney, Trump avoided military service himself by obtaining five deferments (the last of them, in Trump’s case, for a spurious bone spur in his foot — though Trump can’t seem to recall which foot it was).

      Donald Trump protested the Vietnam war by going golfing and trying to dodge a dose of the clap.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        I’m pretty sure, the only time Trump opens his mouth is to change feet. Maybe that is how he got this foot in mouth disease.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:22 am | Permalink

        Oh. My. God.

        This would be a perfect time for that to get picked up by all the media and broadcast over and over. The next time he tries talking about disrespect to our soldiers…

  26. prinzler
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    “If Trump loses football, he’s lost Middle America.”

    Loses football players, or football fans? Not the same at all in terms of being lost by Trump.

  27. Craw
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    ” I’m often wrong about politics, but I’ll say that this is a watershed moment in Trump’s continuing loss of credibility. ”

    You are wrong this time too. This is a fight Trump almost cannot lose. Those players kneeling “because Trump” are helping Trump. They cement his image as the defender of the flag and even — mirabile dictu — as a defender of common politeness.

    As for “athletes” There are few Lou Gehrigs in the NFL. Many NFL players are felons, many beat women, all are rich, few are informed, fewer still are articulate and thoughtful. I expect that soon enough we will see that a crude wife-beater was one of those kneeling. Imagine the optics: a rich wife-beater decides the USA isn’t good enough for the likes of him.

    https://www.usatoday.com/sports/nfl/arrests/

    The NFL is a target too: a corrupt crony-capitalism industry that restricts competition and extracts tax concessions and hand-outs on a vast scale. (Did you know the NFL is a charity, and that it claims the tax exemptions charities do? Outrageous isn’t it?) It lies about CTE, it covers up for player misdeeds.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Mirable dictu, indeed, to have a crude, rich, inarticulate, ill-informed, incurious, accused wife-raping (and self-admitted non-consensual pussy-grabbing), gold-star-family demeaning, POW-insulting draft-dodger (and, once Robert Mueller is done with him, likely felon) as the great defender of Old Glory.

      Donald Trump is as much a moral reprobate as the worst thug to be found in the NFL. Only difference is, he was born mouthing a silver spoon.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        And he is Ugly too. Just kidding. Many of the ball players work in the community and do lots of good. A ball player in fact is a person who cooperates and joins or he wouldn’t be there. Just the opposite of Trump. And Trump is just wrong to think even his stupid fans will walk out in protest because he does not like how they treat the flag or whatever. After paying a minimum $150 for a lousy seat at one of those games, you think they are going to get up and walk out. Little rich guy Trump does not know his base.

      • Mark R.
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • johnw
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        +2

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:24 am | Permalink

        +3

    • bbenzon
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia the NFL was never a charity, though it was once a nonprofit, but it has since given that up:

      At the corporate level, the National Football League considers itself a trade association made up of and financed by its 32 member teams.[33] Up until 2015, the league was an unincorporated nonprofit 501(c)(6) association.[34] Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code provides an exemption from federal income taxation for “Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, boards of trade, or professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players), not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”.[35] In contrast, each individual team (except the non-profit Green Bay Packers[36]) is subject to tax because they make a profit.[37]

      The NFL gave up the tax exempt status in 2015 following public criticism; in a letter to the club owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell labeled it a “distraction”, saying “the effects of the tax exempt status of the league office have been mischaracterized repeatedly in recent years… Every dollar of income generated through television rights fees, licensing agreements, sponsorships, ticket sales, and other means is earned by the 32 clubs and is taxable there. This will remain the case even when the league office and Management Council file returns as taxable entities, and the change in filing status will make no material difference to our business.” As a result, the league office might owe around US$10 million in income taxes, but it is no longer required to disclose the salaries of its executive officers

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        NFL owners tend to be among the hardest of hardcore laissez-faire capitalists — although (no small irony here) former commissioner Pete Rozelle was able to convince them of how lucrative socialism could be when it comes to sharing national tv revenue. 🙂

    • eric
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I agree it’s probably not a watershed moment. But I think you’re wrong in saying this is a win for Trump. I expect antics like this turn off the more mainstream independents and even some conservatives, and I expect it’s going to cost the GOP in the mid-terms.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        Oh, please, oh, please! 😀

  28. Posted September 25, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Free speech in British soccer stadiums is gradually being eroded.

    Let us hope that America does not copy us.

  29. Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Football is, like Christianity, a great family of American religions. One might think that Trump will anger the partisans of these faiths by ticking off its clergy (players). But he’s already shown himself not to fit in well with the other “state religion”, so …

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      When Mr. Tebow took a knee, was there any controversy about his action?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Only from ‘us’ atheists 😉

        cr

  30. Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    If athletes take a knee during football games, the media will ridicule them.

  31. loren russell
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    “versus athletes’ knees..” Lost in the outrage about “speech” is that Trump doesn’t care about the athletes’ knees — literally. Or, especially, their brains. His tirade continued in complaints about NFLs safety regulations — what are now illegal hits [by rule in NFL and college] are to Trump “beautiful tackles”.

    Truly, Trump would embrace gladiatorial contests, gladii vs. reticuli, as long as the gladiators salute the flag, and as long as Trump himself could give the thumbs-down to the lose..

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 25, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Football as we know it today is moribund. Once an efficacious method has been developed for diagnosing chronic traumatic encephalopathy among the living (as opposed to the post-mortem test now available), football as a full-contact sport is through.

      Oliver Stone’s montage in Any Given Sunday intercutting NFL players with Roman gladiators wasn’t just a bit overwrought filmmaking. 🙂

      • Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        I think predictions of the NFL’s demise is premature at best. We might see a drop in youth participation – which is good news for other sports like soccer, basketball and baseball, as parents shy away from letting the kids play. But the NFL is the 500lb gorilla of American sports. Its a sport that OWNS one night and an entire day of the week. It is not going away. It may fade a bit as the pipeline drys up and interest wanes, but expect to be watching Super Bowl C, if you are fortunate enough to live another XLVIII years.

        • eric
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Personally I’d love to see the game get faster and lighter – a bit more like rugby. Lighter players would also likely reduce the serious injury count and risks of CTE.

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:39 am | Permalink

            Yeah, the 300+ pound players, the evidence that some players on some teams have been told to try to cause as much bodily injury as possible, and of course the sometimes gruesome carnage on the field really take away any sense of sportsmanship or team loyalty or appreciation for some of the real skills involved that can make sports fun and compelling to watch.

        • Posted September 26, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          I agree – boxing hasn’t gone away, and there are even more extreme combat sports.

      • Posted September 26, 2017 at 5:49 am | Permalink

        Ave Trumpe, morituri te salutant.

  32. biz
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ll repeat a comment I made above because I think it deserves repeating.

    Some commenters here seem to be confusing what are actually three separate issues:

    1) People’s First Amendment speech rights when it comes to government censure

    2) People’s speech rights when it comes to employer censure when the speech happens during the course of their work

    3) Regardless of the right of an individual to an expressive activity, whether that activity is appropriate or just, and whether others have a right to ridicule that individual.

    Personally, I a quite near to being an absolutist on #1 while recognizing that #2 is nowhere near as absolute. Consider: does an employee of a clothing store have a free speech / expression “right” to call every customer encountered during the workday fat, or would an employer have the right to sanction that person?

    • Posted September 25, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      You accused me directly of being confused about these three things when the only thing I commented on was your contention that these citizens should “just shut up and honor their country”.

      You accused me of strawmanning you because I quoted you. Not a good way to show competence in reading comprehension. Since you couldn’t even get that straight, why in the world should I (a least) accept your claim now that others here are confused about your list?

      • biz
        Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        You are still revealing your confusion. My opinion there was relevant to question #3 while you think, or at least have been trying to imply, that it is about question #1.

        • Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          I’m not confused in the slightest and your reading comprehension has not improved.

          See Ken Kukec’s rebuttal to your nonsense above.

        • eric
          Posted September 25, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think anyone is confused about your position biz. They just disagree with your opinion that (a) the player’s actions are #3 inappropriate, and (b) that Trump’s response was well thought out.

          In fact, my guess is most commenters here would point out that your #3 argument applies more to Trump than it does to the players – i.e. people are trying to point out to you that just because Trump has a right to tweet angry things about the players, doesn’t mean his doing so is appropriate.

  33. PatrickQ
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Remember when Trump thought Presidents had more important things to do than get involved in football controversies?

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2017/09/25/politics/trump-nfl-tweet-four-years-ago-trnd/index.html

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      Lol!

  34. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    First report of this I saw, I thought Trump had fired a salvo against Tebowing. And I thought ‘How odd. The loose cannon was pointing in the right direction for once. Most disconcerting’.

    Obviously, that impression was quite incorrect. Probably just as well, I can’t think of anything more alarming than having Trump on our side. 😉

    cr

  35. mirandaga
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    “If Trump loses football, he’s lost Middle America.”

    Maybe so, but he’s not losing football, he’s only losing those who are sympathetic with not standing for the national anthem. So my paraphrase would be, “When you start dissing the American flag, you’ve pretty much lost Middle America.”


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