Let’s talk about Trump.
He’s practically in the news every single day at this point for something ridiculous he’s said or done.
Most recently, however, has been Trump’s involvement in the sports world. On Friday, September 22, Stephen Curry, from the 2016-2017 championship team, the Golden State Warriors, stated that he would be voting no for when his team would sit down to discuss their visit to the White House. Visiting the White House for championship teams has been a custom for American sports team year after year.
When asked at a press conference what it would mean to decline going to the White House, Curry said, “That we don’t stand for basically what our president has—the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said at the right times—that we won’t stand for it.” He added, “I don’t think us going to the White House will miraculously make everything better, but this is my opportunity to voice that.”
Fellow teammate Kevin Durant has confirmed that he won’t be attending the White House visit either.
Following all of this, this past weekend, many players in the NFL from various teams showed solidarity and protest by linking arms, kneeling down, or not even showing up during the anthem. For example, The New York Times reported that in the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, “the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans both stayed in their respective locker prior to their matchup.” The Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars knelt in London, England during the American national anthem in protest of Trump’s comments and then stood up during God Save the Queen.
Many more protests were happening over the course of many NFL games over the weekend, as well.
Most often, the reasons for the protests were because of the inequalities and injustices that are ongoing within America. Another motivation for the protests is one man, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
How do you think Trump reacted when he started seeing all these protests?
Well, after Curry said that he was not be going to the White House, Trump tweeted, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” All-star NBA player, Lebron James, tweeted back, “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
To the NFL players protesting—taking a knee or locking arms—Trump said at a rally for a Republican senator: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Trump also tweeted, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!” and then further tweeted, “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!”
Here is another few of Trump’s tweets, “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! …NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.” and “Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”
Have you had enough of this yet?
Great, now imagine what the people of the NFL are going through when their President is telling players to quit their job because they’re exercising their right to peaceful protest.
Trump’s primary concern at the moment is the action of these players. However, what he isn’t concerned about is the reasoning for their actions.
The protests began with Colin Kapernick back in 2016, when he knelt down during the national anthem. His protest was in regard to the treatment of black people within the U.S. and how there are constant injustices within their own country.
What boggles my mind is that none of these players are kneeling during the national anthem because they disrespect the sacrifices made by individuals who fought for America’s freedom like Trump is accusing them of. Nor are they protesting because they don’t understand the meaning behind the national anthem. The players know full well what they’re doing, and their protests are a means of sending an important message: injustices cannot be tolerated for any longer.
However, read Trump’s tweets again. He accuses players who kneel of disrespecting the country, that they should be fired or suspended, the games are boring any way, oh, and that kneeling and protesting will give bad ratings to the NFL.
The President is worrying more about TV ratings than he is about the injustices and inequalities in his own country. Trump is calling for team managers to suspend or fire their players due to their peaceful protest to these injustices, rather than listening to his citizens. It makes you question, who does Trump actually represent? If he won’t stand by his own citizens and make the attempt to hear their message, how can these players say that President Trump represents them?
There is no attempt from Trump to understand the motivation for the protests. These players are shouting through their actions that the U.S. has problems, and there is no attempt to help fix these problems. This is a president who is encouraging his own citizens to silence the values and issues that athletes are bringing awareness to. This is the division that he continuously contributes to.
When we’ve reached the point where uttering the name Donald Trump will create a division, this is when you know that there is a problem.
Trump seems to be more worried about the presence and the image of the U.S. to the rest of the world than he is about the problems within his country. He is so set on being the superhero of the world, that he condemns all these other countries and aggravates world leaders solely to tell the world that the U.S. is strong, brave, and won’t back down. He focuses on the problems of others more than he focuses on the issues people from his country are screaming at him for. People are fighting every day or their lives within the U.S. and Trump has made no attempt to mitigate that. His worry is to “Make America Great Again.” What does that even mean? What greatness are you referring to?
What I’m trying to get at is that these athletes have every right to protest and kneel down during the anthem. Their aim, when kneeling down, is to bring awareness to a much bigger issue happening within their country. It doesn’t take much to realize and understand the injustices occurring within the country. However, the divisive rhetoric he spreads through his tweets and his speeches will fuel the hatred of certain individuals within the country—it already has. He fails to realize just how big his influence is on the people of his country.
The issue isn’t that they’re kneeling during the anthem, or refusing to visit him. The issue is that there is no representation, no attempt to help and understand the issues at hand.
This is a scary time that we live in. Living in Canada doesn’t exempt us, nor separate us, from the situation in the U.S. You, as a student, as the next generation of leaders, have every right to stand up against those who do wrong. These athletes aren’t doing anything crazy, they’re just trying to send a message to the decision-makers, and they’re expecting the decision-makers to do what’s right.
A leader doesn’t silence the voices of the strong in order to allow the voices of the rich to come out. A leader doesn’t entice fear into their citizens, nor do they weaken the voice of those who aren’t heard. A leader doesn’t divide their country to seek more attention. A leader has to be the voice of the powerful and the powerless. A leader needs to be one with their citizens and ensure they’re represented and heard.
I believe in what these athletes are protesting, and know that what they’re doing is not deserving of condemnation from their own president. Fear and tweets will not stop the path of the players in the NFL, NBA, or any other sports league, nor will they stop peaceful protesters in general to stop what they’re doing. People will fight and should continue to fight for their rights no matter who gets in their way, even if it’s the Oval Office.
Trump doesn’t see that, and an individual who fails to understand and inform themselves, is not someone who can lead. I definitely am not a politician nor someone who can explain specifically how to be a good politician. But I do know what it takes to be a leader, and Donald Trump is not that.