Of all the people President Donald Trump could have started a feud with, he chose professional athletes.
After a rousing speech at the United Nations where he excoriated Socialism and demeaned North Korean Dictator Kim “Little Rocket Man” Jong Un, it appears the president has decided to focus on football and basketball players as his latest adversaries. Perhaps he needed a break from sparring with an ever-hostile establishment media.
While this latest clash might play well with Trump’s base, it won’t provide him with any real benefit overall. It could cause more damage than it’s worth.
Trump Picks A Fight With Athletes
It started when President Donald Trump decided to call out football players who kneel for the national anthem. During his Friday speech in Alabama in which he expressed his support for Senate candidate Luther Strange, he slammed NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem while it is being played. “That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired!”
But, the president was not finished.
On Saturday morning, he shifted his focus to the NBA when he targeted Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Why? Because he stated that he did not want to visit the White House after the Warriors won the playoffs last year. True to form, President Trump took to Twitter to address the basketball player:
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
Unfortunately, that’s not all – the athletes had their response to the president’s comments.
The Athletes Respond
LeBron James responded to Trump’s attacks on Curry by tweeting, “Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
The NFL did not remain silent either. Max Garcia, an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, used Twitter to ask, “Where was this passion in response to Charlottesville?”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also released a written statement:
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
Not content to leave well enough alone, the president doubled down on the remarks he made in Alabama:
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Trump’s Behavior Is Counterproductive
This is typically the point where Trump’s base applauds his attacks on those they don’t like. Other conservatives castigate the establishment media’s inevitable overreaction to the president’s comments. However, the president isn’t doing himself – or conservatives – any favors when he engages in these asinine disputes.
For starters, comments like the ones Trump made about Stephen Curry make him look petty to the American public. Why? Because his remarks are petty.
Many might disagree with Curry’s reasons for refusing to visit the White House, but rescinding the invitation the way Trump did comes off as childish. It demonstrates a certain “take my ball and go home” attitude that is not befitting the President of the United States.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Trump isn’t a conventional president!” Yes, I get it, but there is a difference between not being “presidential” in the traditional sense, and engaging in petulant attacks on Twitter.
Secondly, engaging in conflicts like this only gives more ammo to the left. The media are already using his comments to paint him as a racist – even though Trump clearly has an “equal opportunity” policy when it comes to those he criticizes. While news outlets will almost certainly go overboard in their reactions to the president’s comments, there will be a kernel of truth to their criticisms that will be hard to defend.Warriors at Wizards 2/3/16
The last – and most important – reason why this feud was ill-chosen is simply this: nobody gives a rip about what professional athletes think.
When was the last time you saw Stephen Curry on The Charlie Rose Show discussing the nuances of Trump’s foreign policy? How often have you seen CNN’s Jake Tapper interview Max Garcia to ask his opinion on tax reform?
Most of the American public does not care about the views of pro athletes – unless they are talking about sports. Football and basketball players make poor adversaries because they don’t have the level of influence possessed by members of the establishment media and the Democratic party. The president attacking athletes in this way is like Floyd Mayweather challenging a six-year-old to a boxing match. Punching down is not a strategy that will serve the president well.
Trump is usually more adept at picking his enemies. Even people who aren’t a part of his base love when he goes after the news media. They enjoy his tirades against the Democratic party and the Republican establishment.
It will always be harder for the left to justify their criticism of the president for his harsh language against North Korea than it is to attack him for petty attacks against pro athletes. Let them foolishly attack him for doing the right thing – instead of giving them the opportunity to slam him for starting silly feuds. If Trump wants to frustrate the left’s efforts at discrediting him, he must choose his targets more wisely.