Donald Trump wanted a fight with the athletes. They may well have condemned him | sport


Sports and politics have always existed at a very public crossroads in American life, but never has the illusory firewall kept them apart more naked than in the past four years. Donald Trump’s political alchemy has always been based on his incredible ability to take advantage of the fault lines that divide us. This proved to be a critical tactic for someone who managed to win the Republican presidential nomination despite not winning a majority in the first 40 primaries and caucuses, who won the White House despite the loss. popular vote of nearly three million votes and whose overall approval ratings have never snapped a majority throughout his tenure.From the early days of his administration, Trump has found fertile ground to lead this fight in America’s last unifying arena: the co-opting of American sport as not just a proxy battle in cultural wars that reflect the deep divisions of America. ‘one country, but the main theater. He has always recognized the sport as an inextricable part of the American experience: from owning an American Football League team in the early 1980s to staging a series of major fights at his casino in ‘Atlantic City before it went bankrupt, notably the 1988 blockbuster between Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks, for which he paid a then record site fee of $ 11 million. It was these roots in boxing promotion, where bad leadership and the multiple arts of emotional manipulation are stock-in-the-trade, that served him particularly well during his astonishing rise to the White House. But it wasn’t until a rally in Alabama nine months into his presidency that he first grasped what has become his favorite source of easy political points.

His sensational side on Colin Kaepernick was just the start. Before long, Trump was wrestling with NBA stars Stephen Curry and LeBron James over his decision to cancel the Golden State Warriors’ unsuccessful invitation for the White House visit traditionally extended to championship-winning teams (sparking the all time burn by LeBron from “U bum”). He chose a fight with Megan Rapinoe, a proudly gay athlete with a taste for battle whose open political views made her a lightning rod for conservatives. He launched an unfounded attack on Bubba Wallace following an incident this summer in which a noose was found in the garage of Nascar’s lone black driver’s team. When ESPN correspondent Jemele Hill tweeted that Trump was “a white supremacist who had surrounded himself largely with other white supremacists,” Trump first applauded through the press secretary. White House, which declared the comments “a terminable offense,” then doubled down with a name check on Twitter linked to Hill’s two-week suspension from the network.

During the early years it was a free business. The targeted demonization of these so-called elites, almost exclusively from minority or otherwise marginalized communities, was red meat to its base: a white who speaks harshly in a country where whites speak harsh is still seen by many as something who must be impressed. . He played on our worst instincts and our lowest common denominator. Depressingly, that was good policy.


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