Another week in the Whitehouse and another controversy surrounds President Trump. This time it’s not with a foreign leader or an A-list Hollywood actress, but one of the biggest sports organisations in the United States: The National Football League (NFL).
The NFL became the latest target for President Trump and his much maligned Twitter feed, when quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem. Kaepernick did this to protest the thousands of African-Americans and other people of colour who say they are oppressed by the US police force.
Kaepernick’s protest began in 2016 and has continued to do so. The president first criticised him in October of last year while still on his campaign trail. The president stated the NFL had a drop in ratings as a result of Kaepernick’s actions. However, these criticisms rose from ashes last week, when during a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, the president re-ignited the controversy calling Kaepernick a “son of a bitch”.
He continued to say that anyone who kneels during the national anthem should be “fired”. Video footage of the rally and his call of expulsion quickly reached every corner of the country, dividing opinions amongst the American people.
Once again the President’s comments caused a divisive and controversial debate in the United States.
Legendary sports figures such as Michael Jordan and acclaimed news anchors such as Don Lemon expressed their outrage at the President’s language. The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodwell quickly responded to the President’s comments by stating “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players”.
It wasn’t just people on the left who were horrified by Trump’s speech but even those on the right aren’t comfortable with what Trump said. Former NFL coach Rex Ryan, who has been a ‘Trump supporter’, expressed his outrage at the comments, stating “It’s appalling what the President said”.
The Trump administration failed to clarify their stance on the issue when Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at a press conference on the importance of freedom of speech. However, the following day during an interview with Fox and Friends, Sessions agreed with the President in saying that there “should be a formal rule [for] the league. They should be able to say to the players, ‘If you’re on our field, in our game, paid by us, you should respect the flag and the national anthem’”.
Trump has even gone so far as to urge his supporters to boycott watching the NFL.
One side of the argument believe that it is unconstitutional and unpatriotic to the millions of men and women who risk their lives for their country to disrespect the American flag. The counter argument is that many would say that this is in breach of the First Amendment of the US constitution. Kaepernick along with his fellow players are expressing their right to freedom of expression. Furthermore, people hold issue with Trump’s comments as many feel it was harsh criticism when compared to the comments he made on the Neo-Nazis after the attack in Charlottesville.
However, what the media fails to address is that this is another huge diversion by Trump to avoid some of the pressing issues at hand. This controversy has come at a time during Germany’s national election, the wearying diplomacy and threat of nuclear warfare with North Korea and one of the most contentious issues in America: repealing Obamacare.
This story has been the main headline across various media outlets and newspapers such as CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post.
What started as a protest against police brutality and racial violence in 2016 has now escalated to yet another controversy surrounding President Trump as he continues to wage a war on the NFL and all those associated with it.
It begs the question; what will happen next in the Trump White House? The last nine months have shown nothing is impossible for this president’s administration.