Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Trump and the Professional Athletes

 

I will say this for Donald Trump. He really knows how to hit a nerve. He has an instinctive understanding of wrongs swept under the carpet and of how to get those who perpetrate those wrongs to rise up and do themselves harm.

I do not personally much like his way of going about things. Schoolboy taunts seem to me childish and unpresidential, and they can be counter-effective. But let’s face it: with this weapon, he made mincemeat of his Republican opponents, and he defeated Hillary Clinton. He knows something that those of us who are more conventional do not quite get.

Every once in a while, however, I get a glimpse of what Trump is up to, and then I really am impressed. His attack on the NFL could not be more timely.

I do not have a television, but I grew up with one, and I long owned one. I have not watched any professional games for some time, but I used to watch — and what struck me about them was the way that the NFL, the NBA, and the baseball franchises wrapped themselves in the flag. Theirs was, they knew, an endeavor that brought Americans of all races, of both sexes, and of every conceivable political orientation together. For a brief moment, we put aside what divided us and celebrated our common love of excellence, and they ably exploited this fact.

In the last few years, however, ESPN and Sports Illustrated have done everything that they could to politicize sports. It is all part of a national crusade in our schools and universities and in every walk of life to demonize those who are conservative and those who are religious and to silence them. This crusade has a quasi-religious, sanctimonious character — and there are a great many Americans who strongly dislike what they are doing.

This crusade has a history, and it has a subtext. It began with Barack Obama’s campaign for the Presidency. In her stump speech, in February and March 2008, Mrs. Obama asserted that Americans are “cynical” and “mean” and have “broken souls” and that the lives “that most people are living” have “gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl.” Towards the end of his campaign in that year, her husband announced that he would “fundamentally change America,” and when he was elected he termed his administration “The New Foundation.”

Nothing about Barack Obama has ever been crystal clear. He is now and always has been a poser and an operator of the first rank. The implication, the subtext of what he said, was nonetheless clear enough. It was that there was something “fundamentally” wrong with America — that we should be assumed of the Founding, ashamed of our history, ashamed of ourselves and that a Messiah had arrived — Nancy Pelosi called him “the One” — to steer us away from our shameful heritage and set us on the right path. In keeping with this, Barack Obama persistently sought to demonize everyone who opposed his program, and the mainstream media and the administrations of our universities soon took up this theme with zest.

Ordinary folk do not much like being demonized, and Donald Trump knew better than any other Republican how to give form to their inchoate resentment. He channeled it. He stoked it — and when Hillary Clinton responded by dismissing millions of her fellow Americans as “a basket of deplorables and irredeemables,” she forfeited the election. Those Americans whom she had in mind recognized the religious tone of this language; they knew that the only proper thing to do with the irredeemable is to cast them into the outer darkness; and Donald Trump showed them the light and a path out of that darkness. Would any other Republican have had the courage? Theirs is the party of surrender, the party of the white flag.

Ronald Reagan had a way of getting his liberal opponents to shoot themselves in the foot — simply by articulating truths that everyone was forbidden to utter — that, for example, the Soviet Union was an “evil empire.” Trump has the same gift in spades. Like Reagan, he is not much liked by the Republican establishment. But that does not stop him.

The political demonstrations that we have seen on the part of players at the professional football games are a part of the crusade initiated by Barack Obama. It all began with Colin Kaepernick a bit more than a year ago. In keeping with the propensity for our professional sports teams to wrap themselves with the flag, the NFL Game Operations Manual stipulates:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

Colin Kaepernik publicly, ostentatiously defied that rule. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, has always run a tight ship. In the past, he has been quick to fine or otherwise restrain players who sought to advertise their religious beliefs, their solidarity with those killed on 9/11, and their regret that police officers had been killed in a domestic terrorist attack.

This time, however, he did nothing, and President Obama, in well-honed fashion, waded in to exploit Kaepernick’s insolent gesture: “I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing … I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”

It was a clever maneuver, and it worked as intended. Now the door is open. Professional athletes feel entitled to express their scorn for this country on their employers’ time and to make our putting up with this a part of the price we pay for watching them play. None of the employers has displayed any backbone, and Donald Trump, sensing an opportunity, has outed the former as scoundrels unworthy of the honor conferred on them and the latter as cowards.

Attendance at NFL games is dramatically down. ESPN viewership is dramatically down as well — and the President of the United States has shown American patriots that they can make the network, the NFL, and the players pay for their puerile self-indulgence. As in the days of Ronald Reagan, who was always breaking political taboos (albeit in a gentler and less crude way than Donald Trump), liberals, such as Jonathan Chait, are celebrating what they take to be a great faux pas — oblivious to the fact that time and again this man has profited from such faux pas and that they are giving free publicity to remarks that a great many Americans find heartening.

Perhaps, the most intriguing response has been that of the man whose unwillingness to enforce his league’s rules has brought this on. First, Roger Goodell said, “The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud. I’m proud of our league.” Then, he added,

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

I have trouble imagining anything that Goodell could have said that would have seemed more lame and been more embarrassing. His players brazenly attack the “sense of unity” that exists “in our country and our culture.” They do so in defiance of the rules of his league. He does not have the backbone to enforce those rules. The President of the United States calls him on it, and he expresses regret for the “lack of respect for the NFL” that this demonstrates. With this as a rallying cry, who could feel any respect for the NFL?

One might, of course, argue that this is a tempest in a teapot — which it is. But from such tempests, as Barack Obama understood, grave changes come. Colin Kaepernick, the players who have followed his example, Barack Obama, and the likes of Nancy Pelosi want to legitimize hatred of the United States and of everything that it stands for and make it a respectable position to espouse in our national discourse.

If they succeed, treason will soon be celebrated as the true patriotism. That we are on this path was made evident a short time ago when the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard conferred its approval on Chelsea Manning by inviting him to become a Fellow at its Institute of Politics. Harvard was forced to back off. It would be a very fine thing if the same thing were to happen to the National Football League.

There is one thing that is guaranteed. If ESPN and the teams in the NFL start to lose money, this nonsense will stop.

There are 58 comments.

  1. Kevin Schulte Member

    Promote this to the main feed!!!!! Oh wait ! Just kidding. ;)

    Loved this Professor.

    • #1
    • September 25, 2017, at 3:27 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  2. Fredösphere Member

    Thanks for quoting the NFL rules, Doc. It really puts things in perspective. When those rules were written, did anyone expect them to become controversial? It shows how far the country has moved.

    • #2
    • September 25, 2017, at 3:36 PM PST
    • 24 likes
  3. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    Newt Gingrich put it succinctly: “If you’re a multi-millionaire who ‘feels oppressed,’ you need a therapist, not a publicity stunt.”

    • #3
    • September 25, 2017, at 3:39 PM PST
    • 32 likes
  4. Hoyacon Member

    I can understand why one would be hesitant to do so, but I don’t believe that it’s possible to evaluate the wisdom/propriety of the President’s remarks without quoting them directly. Should I? I’d rather not.

    • #4
    • September 25, 2017, at 3:44 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. Michael C. Lukehart Thatcher

    The most pernicious effect of the kneeling is that, at some level, it forces everyone in the stadium (or audience) to take sides. Either you take a knee, or remain seated, or some b-list entertainer (and that is what these athletes are) is now implicitly calling you a racist. A sporting event put on for your entertainment, and for which you paid a lot of money, is deliberately transformed into a political event. A moment of unity celebrating our shared heritage is now a moment of division emphasizing our differing views.

    To hell with it. I can spend my hard-earned money, or finite time, elsewhere. The league just lost a fan.

    • #5
    • September 25, 2017, at 3:49 PM PST
    • 27 likes
  6. blood thirsty neocon Inactive

    Trump’s treatment of this issue may be unnecessary and intentionally divisive, but it is politically brilliant. When I see all those millionaire crybabies disrespect the flag, I feel the same way I felt during the campaign when I heard millionaire crybabies like Katie Perry and Hillary Clinton crap all over everything I believe and whine about sexism. When Trump seizes the moment and speaks out against these millionaire crybabies, I feel again that I’m not alone, and those thousands of people buying Alejandro Villanueva’s jersey agree with me and Trump. Trump has taken the 70 side of a 70/30 issue. Deal with it, America!

    • #6
    • September 25, 2017, at 3:56 PM PST
    • 17 likes
  7. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Fredösphere (View Comment):
    Thanks for quoting the NFL rules, Doc. It really puts things in perspective. When those rules were written, did anyone expect them to become controversial? It shows how far the country has moved.

    Yes, it is indicative — and the only thing that can turn the clock back is a real shock to the system.

    • #7
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:16 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  8. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I can understand why one would be hesitant to do so, but I don’t believe that it’s possible to evaluate the wisdom/propriety of the President’s remarks without quoting them directly. Should I? I’d rather not.

    I don’t much like them myself, but . . .

    • #8
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:18 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Michael C. Lukehart Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I can understand why one would be hesitant to do so, but I don’t believe that it’s possible to evaluate the wisdom/propriety of the President’s remarks without quoting them directly. Should I? I’d rather not.

    I don’t much like them myself, but . . .

    I would bet money that they were not unique to President Trump. Nor original.

    • #9
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:21 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    The quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers has now expressed regret for his contribution to this mess. Seems like a decent guy.

    • #10
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:26 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  11. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe: Nothing about Barack Obama has ever been crystal clear. He is now and always has been a poser and an operator of the first rank. The implication, the subtext of what he said, was nonetheless clear enough. It was that there was something “fundamentally” wrong with America — that we should be ashamed of the Founding, ashamed of our history, ashamed of ourselves

    I love your characterization of the late, grate (not a typo) Mr. O. He is/was a total poser, and I was seriously offended by his insistence that our country isn’t something about which we should be proud. It is totally ridiculous that these ball players –who could have achieved their status no where else–would disrespect America.

    But, once again, this latest kerfuffle is narrowed down to the Trump factor. If you don’t disagree with him, then you lose virtue points. I don’t watch football, never have. But I’ll be surprised if the NFL can recover from this.

    • #11
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:31 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  12. MLH Inactive
    MLH

    Paul A. Rahe (View Comment):
    The quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers has now expressed regret for his contribution to this mess. Seems like a decent guy.

    From the linked article:

    He continued, “As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don’t believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice.”

    (emphasis mine)

    Isn’t this what the entire song is about?! Even if not, not standing or attending the playing of the anthem is a tribute?

    He may be a decent guy but maybe not too bright.

    • #12
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:32 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  13. Scott Wilmot Member

    Paul A. Rahe:

    The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

    During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

    Andrew Klavan (how do you spell that?) also stated this on his podcast. I did not know this, nor had I heard this from any other media. Thank you for writing a post on this.

    Paul A. Rahe: There is one thing that is guaranteed. If ESPN and the teams in the NFL start to lose money, this nonsense will stop.

    May it be so.

    • #13
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:42 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Fritz Member

    Excellent piece. Thank you!

    I have been a longtime fan, but with political stuff polluting the game and all sports reportage, I have taken a complete break from the NFL. Don’t watch, listen, or read about the results. It is sad that yet another field of endeavor has been tainted by the Left.

    My daughter, a huge Cowboys fan, and I have enjoyed many years of bantering about football. Yesterday, she called to alert me to the fact that Jerry Jones, apparently alone among the owners, told his players in no uncertain terms that they will stand and be respectful during the anthem or they will be gone.

    America’s Team, they once were, and at the rate the NFL is destroying itself, they may end up as the only team America will have left when this is over.

    • #14
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:45 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  15. Boss Mongo Member

    There was one who stood, alone and unafraid, sua sponte.

    Rangers Lead The Way!

    • #15
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:47 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  16. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    I don’t have to quit the NFL this season, because my team, the 49ers, beat me to it.

    • #16
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:47 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  17. Percival Thatcher

    Is Donald Trump really playing n-dimensional chess, or are his opponents (Chiat and his ick … er … ilk) extraordinarily vulnerable to trolling because they are both predictable and not very bright?

    Don’t know. Don’t care. All I know is that Roger Goodell’s performance this weekend resembled no one so much as Kevin Bacon’s character Chip Diller in the movie Animal House.

    • #17
    • September 25, 2017, at 4:50 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  18. Umbra Fractus Lincoln

    “If I thought Trump was doing this on purpose, I’d say it was brilliant, but I just don’t think he’s that smart.”

    I’ve said the above so many times I’m starting to wonder….

    • #18
    • September 25, 2017, at 5:01 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  19. Kevin Schulte Member

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):
    “If I thought Trump was doing this on purpose, I’d say it was brilliant, but I just don’t think he’s that smart.”

    I’ve said the above so many times I’m starting to wonder….

    When you stop saying that, I will believe you found wisdom.

    • #19
    • September 25, 2017, at 5:22 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  20. Guruforhire Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    There was one who stood, alone and unafraid, sua sponte.

    Rangers Lead The Way!

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371726.php

    about that

    • #20
    • September 25, 2017, at 5:35 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. James Gawron Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe (View Comment):
    The quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers has now expressed regret for his contribution to this mess. Seems like a decent guy.

    Paul,

    What if this is the Atlas Shrugged moment? When the responsible people won’t go along with it anymore. What if JcT’s suggestion that everyone tune in then tune out the telecast as soon as the protest is performed. If you have tickets go to the game just to walk out of the stadium when the protest happens. If there is no protest then watch the game. If there is someone who has stood up to the kneejerks then cheer that guy and boo the kneejerks.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #21
    • September 25, 2017, at 5:42 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Skyler Coolidge

    The local radio station claims that the supposed rule is fake news and it is not a real rule.

    • #22
    • September 25, 2017, at 5:48 PM PST
    • Like
  23. Scott Wilmot Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    There was one who stood, alone and unafraid, sua sponte.

    Rangers Lead The Way!


    He has gotten a lot of play on many of the posts today. 

    https://ricochet.com/457245/wealthy-americans-protest-america-on-foreign-soil/#comment-3925892

    • #23
    • September 25, 2017, at 5:56 PM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Fritz (View Comment):
    Excellent piece. Thank you!

    I have been a longtime fan, but with political stuff polluting the game and all sports reportage, I have taken a complete break from the NFL. Don’t watch, listen, or read about the results. It is sad that yet another field of endeavor has been tainted by the Left.

    My daughter, a huge Cowboys fan, and I have enjoyed many years of bantering about football. Yesterday, she called to alert me to the fact that Jerry Jones, apparently alone among the owners, told his players in no uncertain terms that they will stand and be respectful during the anthem or they will be gone.

    America’s Team, they once were, and at the rate the NFL is destroying itself, they may end up as the only team America will have left when this is over.

    Good for Jerry Jones.

    • #24
    • September 25, 2017, at 6:24 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. MLH Inactive
    MLH

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    There was one who stood, alone and unafraid, sua sponte.

    Rangers Lead The Way!

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371726.php

    about that

    here’s another

    • #25
    • September 25, 2017, at 6:25 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The local radio station claims that the supposed rule is fake news and it is not a real rule.

    You might look at the article I cited.

    • #26
    • September 25, 2017, at 6:26 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Richard Easton Member

    My wife talked with Obama for about fifteen minutes circa 1996. She said that he was very charismatic but that it was empty charisma. He acted like he was so excited to meet her. She was skeptical; why would a state senator from Kenwood be so excited to meet a person from Streeterville. Before he left office, I thought he was 80% far leftie and 20% grifter. Since then I’ve raised the grifter to 40%. In some ways he was the anti Midas. Everything he touched, including gold, turned into dung. He quietly sowed division between the races and hoped to reap the fundamental transformation of the U.S.

    • #27
    • September 25, 2017, at 6:29 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  28. Hoyacon Member

    Michael C. Lukehart (View Comment):

    Paul A. Rahe (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I can understand why one would be hesitant to do so, but I don’t believe that it’s possible to evaluate the wisdom/propriety of the President’s remarks without quoting them directly. Should I? I’d rather not.

    I don’t much like them myself, but . . .

    I would bet money that they were not unique to President Trump. Nor original.

    Agreed. But are they original to a President speaking in public? Can we stop dancing around the fact that this goes beyond “standing up for the flag”?

    • #28
    • September 25, 2017, at 7:14 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Michael C. Lukehart Thatcher

    @hoyacon: Of course it goes beyond “standing up for the flag.” President Trump’s particular genius (if you would call it that) combines the instinct for the popular position on an issue everyone else is afraid to touch, a willingness to verbally attack his opponents, a delight in the disregard of political correctness, and a certain blunt crudeness of expression. He is telling everyone who feels put upon by the dominant culture that he gets it, and he’s pissed off, too. And he knows that he lives inside his opponents heads, that they hang on his every word, and he is going to make them suffer.

    He wasn’t my candidate in the primaries. That being said, personally, I think that it is oddly healthy to have someone so crude and blunt in the White House. We are way too far gone mystifying and imperializing the Presidency, and it’s about time to start reversing that process.

    • #29
    • September 25, 2017, at 8:07 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  30. Hoyacon Member

    Michael C. Lukehart (View Comment):
    @hoyacon: Of course it goes beyond “standing up for the flag.” President Trump’s particular genius (if you would call it that) combines the instinct for the popular position on an issue everyone else is afraid to touch, a willingness to verbally attack his opponents, a delight in the disregard of political correctness, and a certain blunt crudeness in expression. He is telling everyone who feels put upon by the dominant culture that he gets it, and he’s pissed off, too. And he knows that he lives inside his opponents heads, that they hang on his every word, and he is going to make them suffer.

    He wasn’t my candidate in the primaries. That being said, personally, I think that it is oddly healthy to have someone so crude and blunt in the White House. We are way too far gone mystifying and imperializing the Presidency, and it’s about time to start reversing that process.

    OK, Michael, we’re on the “agree to disagree” train. I don’t buy that crudity in the office is ever positive. As an aside, I think it’s notable how few people who have sympathized with his take have actually quoted his remarks verbatim.

    • #30
    • September 25, 2017, at 8:15 PM PST
    • 2 likes