By Adnan Basic, Staff Reporter
President Donald Trump has started yet another conflict. This time, instead of North Korea or Mexico, his target is the NFL.
It all started on September 22 when President Trump was hosting a rally in Alabama. During his speech to the crowd, the president turned his attention toward the NFL, and the recent trend of players kneeling during the national anthem.
Trump said owners should “get that son of a b***h off the field right now” when faced with a kneeling player, and fire them as soon as possible. The pro-Trump crowd went into wild applause, but many others saw the quote in a different light.
The backlash began with a press release from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who did not call out the president by name, but said that the comments were divisive and disrespectful to the league. Then, over the course of the NFL weekend, there were various types of protests from players. Some teams locked arms on the sidelines, many players knelt and other teams didn’t even come on out to the field until the anthem was finished.
Many viewers and analysts called out the NFL; not over protesting, but their reason for doing it. It became more about unifying the league than the original reason players knelt.
Some even accused NFL players and owners of only acting out in the fear of losing money. Mohammad Samra, a journalism major at Roosevelt, said he was disappointed in the NFL for not specifying the reasoning behind these protests.
“Both sides are lost in the meaning of this. The NFL players aren’t clarifying why they are doing this,” Samra said, “I’m fully supportive of them, but they need to make the message clearer.”
Some have wondered why President Trump decided to go out of his way to attack the league and its players.
Communications professor Charlie Madigan explained that Trump is trying to keep his few remaining supporters.
“He’s doing this for his base. There are no good signs on the horizon for him,” Madigan said, mentioning President Trump’s losses on health care, tax reform, and backing down from DACA. “He’s become insecure about his backers. He wants to keep them in line, and he’s gonna be saying even more extreme things to do that.”
This battle might be bigger than many realize. Football is one America’s most popular sports, with millions of people watching on television screens across the country every week.
Sustainability studies professor Mike Bryson, who recently went through a project on social justice with one of his classes, explains the impact these players can have on social justice.
“Pro athletes have long demonstrated the potential to drive social change in a positive direction within the context of their sports, and sometimes beyond,” Bryson said, citing Jackie Robinson and the racial rights movement as an example. “Similarly, athletes have effectively used their media visibility and fame to protest unjust wars and domestic policies.”