Trump Takes On NFL: Sunday Shows "Stick To Sports" Argument Is Dead
The idea of “'stick to sports' died for good Saturday" with President Trump’s comments, and the idea that sports "offered some kind of respite from politics, always flawed, has forever been abandoned," according to Luke DeCock of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER (9/23). In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes, "Stick to sports? It was impossible Sunday." Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis said, "What did you expect? A lot of people go to NFL games to get away from politics and the discourse, but when it gets inflamed the way it did (by the president), I understand why it happened.” He added of Trump's comments, "It was disappointing. … It was divisive. I felt like we had to stick up for our players. I’m really proud of our players and everything they do. They’re a great bunch of guys. They’re not dividers, they’re uniters” (DENVER POST, 9/25). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes the NFL "served up some history ... with the unpredictable games presented with a nod to the movement occurring with demonstrations all across the league ... as the ultimate in-your-face gesture to Trump." Bell: "The old 'stick to sports' suggestion no longer applies." The rhetoric from Trump "fueled discussions within the teams and dominated the NFL pregame television shows." Afterward, when most players "spoke publicly for the first time since Trump's speech, the topic buzzed" (USA TODAY, 9/25).
GONE FOR GOOD: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "No matter what side you fall on, I think we can all agree that 'Stick to Sports' is officially dead as a reasonable expectation in the American sports landscape in 2017." This has "always been a protest intended to provoke a much broader and harder-to-have conversation about racial and other mistreatment in this country, and what all of us can do to get better." That is a conversation that a "number of high-profile athletes in this country want to have -- and, because of the elevated place we give in this country to athletes, and all the patriotism we’ve wrapped around our sporting events, they now have a platform and our attention." Politics have "barged down the door," and they "look like they’re going to stay for a very long while" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/25).
AWKWARD POSITION FOR EVERYONE: In L.A., Farmer & King write football yesterday became the "latest unwilling participant in the nation’s culture wars" (L.A. TIMES, 9/25). Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said, "This thing has put the players in an awkward position. Our guys remain very committed to winning football games and continuing the great things they do in our community of Cincinnati, their outreach and everything they do. They chose to show their support for our veterans, for our military, for the Cincinnati community by simply standing and staying unified together. They weren't going to let divisive words divide them" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 9/25). Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, whose team stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, said, "I didn’t appreciate our football team being dragged into politics this weekend" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/25).