As players throughout the NFL, the NBA, and even Major League Baseball take increasingly bold stances regarding social justice, President Trump has a message for them: Your job isn’t to talk about justice; it’s to get injured while I toggle between your games and Fox News Sunday.
“Today if you hit too hard –15 yards!,” said the Commander in Chief, speaking on a day when headlines included North Korean missiles, devastation in Puerto Rico, and continued attempts to dismantle American healthcare. “They’re ruining the game!”
The leader of the free world also made his opinion clear on any athlete who kneels for the National Anthem: a “son of a bitch” worthy of being “fired” in the style of the popular (but not Emmy popular) NBC show where he got to play a billionaire.
Trump’s message to kneeling athletes is clear: they are on our televisions to entertain us while we eat burned hamburgers and chug Diet Coke. And a great way to do this is to crash into each other and get head trauma, lest we get so bored that we change the channel to Judge Jeanine.
Anything else that athletes might wish to do — like express reasoned thought beyond that of Trump’s lesser cabinet secretaries — is off limits, particularly when those reasoned thoughts point out glaring hypocrisy.
For instance, Trump says his rationale for compulsory anthem-standing is respect for the military. Yet the military, much like the NFL, has become increasingly populated by people of color. And when one considers the location of most urban military recruiting centers — minority neighborhoods — who’s more likely to know an active duty soldier: a black NFL player, or a white billionaire who said avoiding STDs was his “personal Vietnam”?
In fact, in Trump world, a soldier in a camouflage uniform has a lot in common with an athlete in a hideous pirate-themed NFL uniform. The athlete is there to give up his body to lifelong pain and his brain to CTE for the entertainment of overweight men second-guessing them from barcaloungers. Likewise, the soldier’s job is to give his body to bullets and his mind to PTSD, while those same men in barcaloungers (gold lamé ones) stay home with “bone spurs” and reduce the soldier’s service to a piece of music adapted from a drinking song.
And speaking of soldiers, what’s more offensive to them, anyway? Is it silently kneeling to protest racism and police brutality, or is it saying that a man who spent years in the Hanoi Hilton — a man who refused to be released unless his fellow servicemen were as well — isn’t a hero? Is it sitting on the bench while a corporate recording artist adds two minutes of melisma to a patriotic anthem, or is it repeatedly insulting the Muslim parents of a soldier who died on the field of battle?
Ultimately. such questions are for service members to decide. In the meantime, Trump and professional athletes are locked in a standoff.
Maybe Trump will come around to the players’ view as public opinions shift. Or maybe the NFL players will come around to Trump’s point of view… but for that to happen, their mental state will have to significantly change.
Maybe that’s why he’s so invested in their head injuries.