I’m not much of a footy-head, but even I was pretty chuffed to see that the Cowboys have made it to the Grand Final this coming weekend.
I don’t usually follow sport, but it seems like you can’t get away from football coverage at the moment. The Cowboys are in the NRL grand final. Richmond have made it through to their first AFL grand final since 1982 – sparking an uproar over which jumper they should be wearing.
And over in the United States, huge controversy is brewing over players choosing to “take the knee”.
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It started last year, when Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem, in protest to police treatment of minorities. This season no team has signed him, which many believe is because he’s deemed ‘too controversial’.
Donald Trump reacted predictably to Kaepernick’s peaceful protest – by tweeting his outrage, and calling for players who don’t stand during the anthem to be fired.
Truthfully, I can understand why Trump is angry. Failing to respect the national anthem can be viewed as a disrespectful slight against veterans, soldiers and first responders.
But Trump’s indelicate handling of the whole affair has been a catalyst for tensions to build further.
Instead of acknowledging the situaton in a respectful way, he’s employed his trademark ‘bruised ego approach’, which has inflamed and inspired more players to exercise their right not to stand during the national anthem.
Over the weekend, AP reporters counted 102 players kneeling or sitting, and at least three raising their fists. Majority of the protestors are African American, adding even more tension. In response, Donald Trump tweeted:
“NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”
“Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”
“Please (sic) to inform that the Champion Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL will be joining me at the White House for Ceremony. Great team!”
Trump’s tweets have prompted calls for Kaepernick to be re-signed. The controversy has also spilled over into other sports, with baseball and basketball players beginning to #taketheknee.
And all I can think is: if this is how Trump and his megalomaniac ego handles a relatively simple NFL controversy, how on earth are we going to avoid nuclear war with North Korea?