I am not a sports fan, really. I'm not athletic myself, for one thing and I don't really have the capacity to invest myself in watching organized sporting contests for a whole season. It is just entertainment that I don't quite understand, in some ways, although I appreciate that people have trained and pushed their bodies, through muscle memory and a long understanding of various plays, to excel in well-regulated physical contests of skill. I get it, but I don't. I also don't watch billiards or chess tourneys. I follow politics. It's like, the one game of homo ludens I actually grok.
This is why the intersection of sports and politics matters to me. We have witnessed sports history as being about multi-talented people, and heroic symbols of the excellence of diversity. We see sports records at times in light of many "firsts". And we can also view sports as a platform for role models who display acts of conscience.
President Trump in his long and rambling speech in Huntsville, Alabama, had something to say about athlete protesters (but I am sure he probably had Colin Kaepernick in mind):
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers during the offseason. He has not been signed by a new team since then. Several players have continued to protest during the anthem this season.
"The only thing you could do better," Trump said, "is if you see it, even if it's just one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway."
Leave the stadium? Does this jackass know what people pay for these seats? What a dumbass. Pay for a ticket, then fail to watch the game, and the NFL still gets the same revenue. This guy has a problem with understanding that the NFL needs to confront the brain damage issue, but sounds like he has a bad case of CTE, himself. And what would people be walking out for--a failure to appreciate people taking advantage of the platform their skills have given them to try to start a conversation--
About whether black lives matter. Whether black people can drive cars, walk streets, carry things that might look vaguely gun-like, in public where cops can see, without getting shot dead. They aren't protesting every damn thing about America. They are protesting people getting killed for their skin. And I acknowledge and see their point, and don't get how this is offensive to anyone. People should not be killed for no good reason by duly constituted authority. Blackness shouldn't ever be a death sentence in a world where we live by a presumption of innocence for suspected persons.
Donald Trump disparages the speech of some people, to stoke the biases of biased people. He is just a divider, and an overt and grotesque one at that. I stand with and if necessary, take a knee alongside someone like Kaepernick, who has given back and done the work of supporting his community, not just agitating about it.
I get what Trump was stooping to in Alabama. And I guess he got his applause. But I think less of him. Because he makes it so clear how little he values human and civil rights.