Athletes have the same First Amendment rights as every other citizen in the United States. However, our president disagrees. Donald Trump does not believe athletes should be employed if they have publicly criticized the Trump administration. At a rally on Friday, Trump asked the crowd “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get the son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.”
President Trump is clearly directing this at former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is currently unemployed by the NFL, something some attribute to him refusing to stand for the national anthem before games. Kaepernick has also spoken out against the inequality between black and white America. In response to President Trump’s “son of a bitch” comment, Colin Kaepernick’s mother took to Twitter Friday evening, saying “Guess that makes me a proud bitch!”
Many other professional football players stood up to President Trump and defended the ideas of protesting the national anthem in a peaceful way, including stars like cornerback Richard Sherman, running back Reggie Bush and tight end Eric Ebron. All three took to Twitter and stated, “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addresses. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”, “#Kaepernick we riding with you bro [followed by a closed black fist]” and “Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics like they tell us to stick to sports? smh,” respectively.
Numerous other NFL players protested the national anthem during last Sunday’s games. Players in Green Bay, Kansas City and New York linked arms while standing for the national anthem. Others took a knee while covering their hearts with their hands. In Tennessee, the singer and guitarist performing the national anthem both took a knee during the last lines. Protesting the national anthem has become a popular due to its non-violent nature.
President Trump tweeted after protests during Sunday’s early NFL games, “Great solidarity for our national anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”
Players in the NFL are not the only athletes being targeted at President Trump’s rallies and speeches. Players in the NBA have taken a stand against President Trump’s policies and faced his Twitter wrath in return. In an interview with the LA Times on Friday, Steph Curry said “My views haven’t changed at all. I don’t know if anybody’s changed. But that’s where I stand right now. I don’t want to go. That’s my nucleus of my belief.”
In reaction to this, Trump tweeted out another jaw-dropping statement. Early Saturday morning he wrote, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
Curry’s statement gives the public a small window into how many NBA players feel about President Trump’s policies. Many of Steph Curry’s teammates and coaches have also stated that they don’t want to go to the White House either. These players and coaches include superstars Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, David West and Coach Steve Kerr. On deciding whether or not to go to the White House, Durant said,“it’s going to be hard to change my mind.”
Many athletes have come to Stephen Curry’s defense, including LeBron James. James tweeted out Saturday morning, “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!” Steph Curry responded to James’ tweet after Warriors practice via an interview with ESPN.
Curry said “I laughed because I’ve heard that said in pickup games all the time and that’s a pretty, pretty strong statement. I think it’s bold, courageous for any guy to speak up, let alone a guy who has as much to lose as LeBron does…like I said we all kind of have to stand as one.”
Taking a stand during the national anthem is not something new to sports. Both Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the Olympic Podium after winning Gold and Bronze, respectively, in the 200m race during the 1968 Olympics. Their photo, two black fists raised in defiance, is iconic now. However, what is new is our president resorting to “son of a bitch” to try to stop it.
Featured Photo: President Trump holds up Patriots jersey with his name on it during the Patriots’ visit to the White House in April (@Newsweek Twitter)