Trumping Sports With Politics
Of course it’s been hard to miss our president’s recent battle with the NFL (National Football League). The players refusing to stand for the country’s National Anthem has not only put “The Don” mouth to work, but his Twitter fingers as well. Although I believe President Donald Trump is just being himself, never afraid to say whatever he wants to, I think he picked a hotbed with the NFL, arguably one of the most powerful privately owned businesses in the USA. This hotbed could, at best, tarnish his legacy as Commander and Chief, and at worst, create a barrier of division within the country at a time where everything is needed but.
The issue has been kept in headlines because one of my favorite artists of all time weighed in on the whole fiasco. Eminem, who is currently trending for his choice words about Trump through his BET Hip Hop Awards freestyle, never falls short of being controversial. No one is safe from the blonde boomer despite their party alliances. During his freestyle, which was probably more emotional than lyrical, Em drew a line in the sand stating that any supporter of Trump could not be a fan of his. Although I don’t believe he can stop the two from overlapping just a bit, his position is clear. He hates Trump but loves America.
Until now, former presidents have had minimum effect on professional sports if any at all. As far as I can remember, if a president stuck their nose in this arena, it’s only been from a prediction standpoint, or to simply show support for their favorite home team. President Barack Obama had the honor of being the seated President when college football played its first national playoff championship. He weighed his opinion on the change from multi-bowl games to one overall champion without letting his seat interfere with his fan membership. Even 43, President George W. Bush, who was once the owner of the Texas Rangers (one of Texas Major League Baseball Clubs) managed to separate his role as a sports fan from his so-so legacy as “El Capitan.” His presidential approval rating was not so good. Yet, he is still quietly revered as a Texas legend in professional sports. So the question remains: Is President Trump free to be good ole Donald? Or, is his new position as leader of the free world reason for him to muzzle himself (something only he can do)?
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is credited with starting this specific battle against racism and players all over the league began to take a knee during the singing of the National Anthem as early as last season, 2016, to show their support to the cause. Of course, racism has been an ongoing battle in our country, but Kaepernick’s actions elevated it to new heights, involving players from the most powerful sport in the United States. Fans have had their opinions, but these are the same people who burn jerseys when a trade happens. We express and move on to the next game. No biggie. Team owners had their hands full already having to deal with their soldiers (their players) from a franchise standpoint before President Trump excited a crowd in Alabama by stating the team owners should fire and "get that son of a bitch off the field right now” — any player who chose to kneel.
Now if Trump was still on The Apprentice, his corporate reality show which was very successful, we all might have got a kick out his statement. Maybe sent him a few hell mail and messages, then went about our way. Yet, with him being in the most powerful office in the world, we have to ask: Was this smart, presidential, or even necessary? It seems like the nation is at a time where separating Trump the man from Trump the president is impossible.
Personally, I have no opinion about Trump’s statement. I have been called a SOB at several local jobs, then had lunch with the same guys the next day. I think Trump was just being Trump, a smart businessman playing to his soldiers, a crowd of racially charged Southerners who roared at the statement before he moved on. I saw Trump do some very charitable deeds toward several African American celebrity players appearing on The Apprentice. I believe those deeds were more than just producers notes. I think they were heartfelt. I don’t believe Trump is a racist. He may be prejudice, meaning he’s partial to what he is more familiar with. But I think everyone is as far as my life has taught me. Trump may have brought this all on himself by using the political arena (his seat) to make a statement that was probably best said at a good ole southern cooking dinner table in private. In a racial crowd with television cameras aimed and hanging on your every word he says, it may have been pause for him to muzzle his personal opinions on the NFL owners.
Nevertheless, new levels call for new rules. If you sit in the king’s seat, you have to make your position as clear as possible. Either you will be the great divider or the great uniter. Trump’s statement not only caused a divide amongst people (the fans), but he also forced the owners of the multi-billion dollar franchise to speak out against him personally. This was huge because I am willing to bet many of these same guys cast their vote for “The Donald” and would probably do it again. Men with money don’t like to be told what to do. And they like it even less when they’re told in front of the whole nation supplemented by screaming supporters.
In business, it is smart to have a short memory pertaining to personal matters, and an even shorter one when those matters involve unnecessary emotions. Racism is probably the hottest issue our country has to deal with, but let’s face it. Emotions are more of the cause, not the solution. To summarize, I will be clear. I think President Trump's actions were very unpresidential, and I believe they stirred up a storm of emotions that will only settle when the Texans win the Super Bowl. I’m kidding of course (about the Texans). We will never stop Trump from being Trump, but I believe if he has any concern for his political legacy, he should probably pick his battles and words a little more cautiously. Sports fans adapt and move on, but political wars can last a lifetime.
Delbert R. Harris, known to the hip hop world as “RAS” aka “Lil Raskull,” is one of the pioneers for the Houston hip hop scene. He got his start in the early '90s and has sold in the hundreds of thousands of records. RAS recently has ventured out into other business endeavors, but he still stays current on hip hop culture and politics.