Trump stands up while players sit down

Bram Mansbach

Over the weekend of Sept. 23, President Donald Trump was able to spark drama in both of America’s most important professional sport leagues. Trump called out both NBA players and NFL players in a classic-style Trump Twitter feud.

The feud started on Friday, Sept. 22 when Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry made comments about not wanting to visit the White House as they were NBA champions in 2017.

This tradition of a championship team visiting the White House dates back to 1865 with President Andrew Johnson inviting the Brooklyn Athletics. Teams visiting the president became even more well-known following the Obama administration, due to President Obama’s demonstrated interest in sports. Once the news broke that the captain of a championship winning team would decline an invite to meet the president, Trump immediately took to Twitter to express his opinion on this tradition and Curry’s breachment of it.

Trump tweeted it ‘would not matter if Stephen Curry did not want to go since his invitation was withdrawn anyways.’ These childish comments were immediately met with criticism from practically everyone associated with the NBA. Current Cleveland Cavalier forward Lebron James went as far to call Trump a “bum” and spoke how a White house trip is not an honor now that Trump resides there. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant touched on the fact that Trump’s divisive words could not ever “Make America Great Again.”

Meanwhile on the other side of the sporting world, Trump has some NFL players kneeling, others stretching and the rest not even on the field for the national anthem after comments he made during a rally for Republican Senator Luther Strange.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a @#*&% off the field right now, out, he’s fired,” Trump said. The president continued to go as far to say that fans should simply leave the stadium if they see a player kneeling.

He later criticized Colin Kaepernick, a significant leader of these protests, and then the NFL for the introduction of rules to protect the players after new studies have shown the damage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Throughout all of this madness it seemed to escape the president that an American territory was nearly desolate of water and electricity. Trump only tweeted five times about Hurricane Maria in the course of the week before, during and after Puerto Rico was hit dead-on. One of these tweets was responding to the criticism he had been under for not giving enough support to the territory, and another tweet was blaming Puerto Rico for not having supportive enough infrastructure, conjuring up the topic of their debt issue.

Meanwhile Trump, with his priorities in line, tweeted a monstrous twenty times about the great sport debacle over the course of a weekend. This is after critics brought up that Trump once criticized Obama in 2013 about his controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins’ name. Trump tweeted back to then-President Obama that he should be focusing on the real issues facing the country and not any problems in the NFL. He even went as far to tell Obama that he should not be telling the team to change their name in the first place

Our president not only displayed the hypocrisy that he is well known for but also proved once again to prioritize his personal issues over the entire country’s.

Once one takes a step back to look at the whole issue, they also realize that the president is not only trying to attack these athletes but also their first amendment rights. If our president only once seemed to blur the line that is the first amendment, the people would be suspicious, but now that this is a reoccurring theme for the leader of the free world, it is a serious issue. Our country simply cannot take a leader who skews the simplest amendments and starts childish fights with some our country’s best athletes for, what seems to be, his own personal entertainment.

These comments are not only unpresidential but flat out disrespectful. President Trump has acted less for the people and more for himself than any president before during his tenure in office. The president cannot be taken seriously if he continues to make comments putting public figures down simply for exercising their right to peaceful protests. If our country is to stay unified for these next guaranteed turbulent years of Trump’s term, the president needs to recognize his people’s simplest rights. That means no more complaining over free speech and protest, looking at the real issues facing our nation and, in this case, even entailing a reviewal of presidential leadership.