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President Trump and Athletes at Odds Over National Anthem Kneeling Protest Controversy

Team+owner+and+Trump+supporter+Jerry+Jones+kneels+with+the+Dallas+Cowboys+prior+to+the+national+anthem+on+Monday%2C+Sept.+25.+The+team+did+stand+with+locked+arms+during+the+singing+of+the+anthem%2C+however.
Team owner and Trump supporter Jerry Jones kneels with the Dallas Cowboys prior to the national anthem on Monday, Sept. 25. The team did stand with locked arms during the singing of the anthem, however.

Team owner and Trump supporter Jerry Jones kneels with the Dallas Cowboys prior to the national anthem on Monday, Sept. 25. The team did stand with locked arms during the singing of the anthem, however.

Team owner and Trump supporter Jerry Jones kneels with the Dallas Cowboys prior to the national anthem on Monday, Sept. 25. The team did stand with locked arms during the singing of the anthem, however.

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“Get that son of a b***h off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

Those words from President Donald Trump expressing how he would like to see NFL owners respond to players who “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem at games is statement has caused a firestorm of lots of controversy that has reached far beyond the sports world.

Last season, Colin Kaepernick (of the San Francisco 49ers at the time) decided to take a stand against what he perceives to be the systemic racism of the judicial and law enforcement systems by kneeling during the national anthem. This action has been continued by many players and now even coaches and owners.

Most NFL owners criticized Trump’s comments as being divisive. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said that he was “deeply disappointed” by the comments, and that he supported players’ rights “to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.” Kraft is a close friend of Trump’s, having donated one million dollars to his 2016 presidential campaign.

Additionally, many NFL teams in a show of solidarity either took a knee of stood with locked arms during the playing of the national anthem at games on Sunday, Sept. 24. The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to not even leave the locker room for the Anthem.

Trump has called for a boycott from NFL fans to punish players who protest during the national anthem. In response, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has released a statement of his own: “divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect.”

Other NFL owners have made comments of their own. Miami Dolphins owner and founder Stephen Ross said the U.S. needs “unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness” and that the players who protested were “smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place.” In addition, Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick’s former team, said he would continue to support his players, calling Trump’s comments “callous and offensive.”

The NFL is not fighting this battle on its own. Golden State Warriors’ point guard Steph Curry, who has made his disappointment with Trump clear, said that he did not want to go to the White House on the traditional visit made by championship teams. When the two time MVP was asked about his decision he said, “My view hasn’t changed, don’t think I can.”

The very next day, Trump withdrew the invitation for the entire team, tweeting: “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Curry has also stated ‘‘By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country.” Golden State coach Steve Kerr took it as far as saying that these are “probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess, since Vietnam.”

Even Cleveland Cavaliers four time MVP LeBron James jumped into the fray, responding to Trump’s rescinding of the invitation via his twitter, @kingjames, with: “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

The Golden State Warriors said the team had clearly understood “that we are not invited” to the White House but would visit Washington D.C. on its own “to celebrate equality, diversity, and inclusion”. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he was “in favor of the team visiting the White House” and he is “disappointed that that will not happen,” but he is “proud [of his players] for taking an active role in their communities.” Kerr has written an article on the matter in which he directly addresses Trump with: “You represent all of us. Don’t divide us. Bring us together.”

Other NBA players have also weighed in, including Kobe Bryant. The five time NBA champion states via his twitter, @kobebryant, “A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly ‘Make America Great Again.'”

The controversy has reached more than just football and basketball. On Saturday night, the Oakland Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel in protest during the national anthem. His father, who is in the military, stated that he was “kneeling for people that don’t have a voice.” After the Athletic’s 1-0 victory, Maxwell voiced his opinion: “The only way we can come together is by informing. … To single out NFL players for doing this isn’t something we should be doing — I felt it should be a little more broad.”

Even music legend Stevie Wonder has taken a stand backing those athletes who have incurred Trump’s wrath. At his performance on Saturday at New York’s Central Park, he didn’t take just one knee, he took two. “Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America,” the singer said as he held on to his son, Kwame Morris, who knelt next to his father. “But not just one knee; I’m taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe. Amen.

“Our global brothers and sisters, I didn’t come here to preach, but I’m telling you, our spirit must be in the right place. All the time — not just now, but tomorrow and whenever you… need to interrupt hate, stand down bigotry, condemn sexism and find love for all of our global brothers and sisters every day,” Wonder said.

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President Trump and Athletes at Odds Over National Anthem Kneeling Protest Controversy