Trump’s tackle on Amer­i­can Foot­ball play­ers could just spark­end-game

The Corkman - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

FOR­MER Pres­i­dent Mary Robin­son said this week that the world now faces a more dan­ger­ous time due to US Pres­i­dent Trump’s abra­sive meth­ods of diplo­macy. Mrs Robin­son made the re­marks after Trump’s ‘rocket man’ jibe at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly where the multi-mil­lion­aire pres­i­dent drew much ire from North Korea and Iran with plenty of eye­brow-rais­ing from western lead­ers too.

But Trump has also left his flank badly ex­posed at home when call­ing on peo­ple to boy­cott Amer­i­can Foot­ball (NFL) games over the de­ci­sion of some African-Amer­i­can play­ers to kneel while the na­tional an­them was be­ing played – a dis­re­spect­ful act un­der the Stars and Stripes flag ac­cord­ing to Trump.

The con­tro­versy started over a year ago when for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter-back, Colin Kaeper­nick, took is­sue with ri­ots sparked by the shoot­ing of black cit­i­zens by white po­lice of­fi­cers. Kaeper­nick – who was sub­se­quently re­placed by the San Fran­cisco fran­chise and still finds him­self with­out a team – started a protest that took time to ig­nite but has de­vel­oped into an in­ferno fol­low­ing Trump’s in­flam­ma­tory com­ments.

Speak­ing in New Jersey on Sun­day, Trump urged NFL fran­chises to re­move play­ers who dis­re­spect the flag, say­ing coaches should ‘get the son of a b***h off the field’. The com­ment sparked wide­spread anger in the US, an anger that has tran­scended sports with bas­ket­ball star LeBron James la­belling the Pres­i­dent a ‘ bum’.

Some com­men­ta­tors be­lieve Trumps lat­est ram­blings could ul­ti­mately sig­nal the down­fall of this ad­min­is­tra­tion. At no point in re­cent US his­tory has there been such fric­tion be­tween sport and the White House. With the ex­cep­tion of the ‘68 Black Power salute at the Mex­ico Olympics, sport has typ­i­cally served as the di­vid­ing line be­tween po­lit­i­cal dis­course and so­ci­etal plea­sure; a sanc­tu­ary where po­lit­i­cal al­le­giances are sus­pended in the name of sport­ing tra­di­tion.

Even multi-mil­lion­aire owner of the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, Robert Kraft – a long-term friend of Trump’s – ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment over the pres­i­dent’s com­ments.

How­ever, on the flip-side, re­spect for the Amer­i­can flag has been an all-en­com­pass­ing doc­trine that has uni­fied mod­ern Amer­ica.

When there’s trou­ble at home, lead­ers typ­i­cally look abroad for legacy and Trump’s bash­ing of bel­liger­ent for­eign lead­ers might cut him some slack from ‘pa­tri­otic’ Amer­i­cans. But a shot across the bows of Amer­ica’s ‘un­touch­able’ sports stars might well prove a bridge too far. For many, sports stars – ac­tors and mu­si­cians too – hold much more sway amongst vot­ers and it’s fair to as­sume they can di­rect the race de­bate eas­ier than Trump can.

Sport has long been the refuge of cit­i­zens wish­ing to es­cape the daily grind but Trump’s Twit­ter ven­ture into this sa­cred world might well spark the end of his ten­ta­tive sup­port. The elec­tion was won in the ‘Rust Belt’ but this is also a re­gion that con­tains some of Amer­ica’s most -pop­u­lar NFL fran­chises – in cities such as Pitts­burgh, Cleve­land, Buf­falo and Detroit.

Mary Robin­son has warned of dan­ger­ous times ahead in­ter­na­tion­ally but Trump’s endgame could well be on home turf.

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