For the duration of his presidency, Donald Trump has used his platform as one of the most influential people in the world to directly attack private U.S. citizens. Some of those citizens are professional athletes. Many of which are African-American.
Trump, on a Friday night, tweeted his disdain for CNN host Don Lemon and attacked his intelligence as well as that of LeBron James.
This was in response to James’ remarks on Trump in an interview with Lemon. In the interview, the 33-year-old NBA star said the President is using sports to divide us even though its objective is to join people together. What likely enraged Trump was James’ remark at the end when asked by Lemon what the four-time MVP would say to the president if he were sitting across from him. “I would never sit across from him,” James said. “I’d sit across from Barack though.”
One of the main points of the interview was to highlight James’ work in building a new school, the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, for the city’s most challenged young students. In terms of philanthropy, this may be the most widely-appreciated deed that the three-time NBA champion has done, but the President still took issue with him because of one sentence at the end of the CNN interview. Trump has a hard time taking criticism, but it seems to strike a nerve inside him when the criticism comes from a black person, particularly professional athletes. The President, to LeBron’s point, really has used sports to divide.
The NFL protesting controversy has gone on for almost two years, and Trump has taken many opportunities to chime in. When stumping for U.S. Senator Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump used expletives to describe those protesting. “Get that son of a b—h off the field right now,” Trump said. Last November, Marshawn Lynch sat down for the national anthem in a game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots in Mexico City. Trump quickly attacked the running back with this tweet.
In 2017, when the Golden State Warriors won the NBA title, reports were coming out that the team would likely vote no and not visit the White House in their trip to the nation’s capital. Trump then called out point guard Steph Curry by name in a tweet informally rescinding the White House invitation.
However, it’s not just black athletes who criticize Mr. Trump. Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles was one of the most vocal in saying he wouldn’t visit the White House when he was a member of the New England Patriots. “(When) my son grows up — and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is — I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why’d you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?'” Long said.
This was a criticism of Trump, but there was not a peep of retaliation from the commander-in-chief, which begs the question did Trump brush off Long’s comments because he’s white? In the sports world, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been one of the most critical of the president, but we’ve yet to see any tweets from Trump calling out Kerr. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has frequently given scathing rants about the president, but we’ve never seen Trump rant about him at a campaign rally. To cap it off, Tom Brady, a man whom Trump claims to be great friends with, disagreed with the president’s stance on kneeling. “Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive,” Brady said. “Like I said, I just want to support my teammates.” We don’t know how he reacted in private, but in public Trump didn’t say a word.
Some say sports and politics shouldn’t mix. However, we’re all human beings, and it’s wrong to tell a certain person that because of his occupation he can’t publicly criticize or question the president of the United States. And it’s even more absurd to have said president attack professional athletes and target only one group of athletes of the same skin color. Is it a coincidence he only attacks black sports figures? Maybe, but with his past of targeting minorities, it’s hard to perceive this as merely a coincidence.