It’s pretty clear President Trump easily rubs multi-millionaire athletes the wrong way.
When Trump said the NFL team owners should force players off the field if they kneeled for the National Anthem, virtually the entire league joined in protest as their response.
Now there are rumors that Trump might attend the NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship, and something similar could happen again.
The National Championship will be an SEC battle between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs.
Will players take advantage of the national stage and kneel for the National Anthem?
It began with embattled former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and eventually spread throughout the NFL, but college players haven’t really adopted it.
But that could potentially change if President Trump attends the National Championship, as players just might pounce on the opportunity to embrace Kaepernick’s divisive anthem kneeling just to send a message.
“When news broke that President Trump planned on attending the College Football Playoff championship on Monday night, many took notice.
Some thought the move made sense; why not attend a game played between two states the president carried solidly in 2016? Others thought the move was mere pandering to his base.
However, the president’s decision to attend the game also prompted some interesting questions as well. Writing in The Big Lead, Kyle Kosher asks: “Would Donald Trump Leave the National Championship Game If a Player Took a Knee?”
It’s an interesting question, after all, 2017 was probably the most politically-charged sports year, ever. Wouldn’t it be fitting if the CFP championship game also carried heavy political overtones, and maybe, a presidential protest?
In October, Vice President Mike Pence left a San Francisco 49ers-Indianapolis Colts game after players from both teams kneeled during the anthem. Shortly after departing he tweeted, ‘I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.’
Trump followed with his own tweet supporting Pence’s decision.
‘I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.’
The president’s public comments on the practice since then suggest he has not wavered in his feelings. So what if a few players decide to use the huge stage and Trump’s presence to follow the lead of some professional brethren?
Wouldn’t the president feel pressured to leave? How could he square away staying while his vice president left in disgust? Again, the odds of this happening are quite low.
The odds of this happening are indeed, low. However, if 2017 taught us anything, it was that the severely improbable can and will become reality, with frightening speed and frequency.
Though, even if Koster’s scenario doesn’t play out, there’s another potential scenario for political fireworks on Monday night The halftime performer for the game is R&B artist Kendrick Lamar. In a song called “The Heart Part 4,” Lamar takes a pretty big shot at President Trump.
The song’s lyrics read: “Donald Trump is a chump/ Know how we feel punk/ Tell ’em that God comin’/ And Russia need a replay button/ Y’all up to something.” Will Lamar choose that song, now that he knows Trump will be in attendance?
Moreover, how would Trump respond if Lamar performs that song? Particulary if it’s accompanied by finger pointing or gesturing in Trump’s direction? Or, since those lyrics are buried in the middle of a song, maybe Lamar comes up with some kind of new, more obvious sign of disrespect towards Trump?
How would Trump react to that? Either way, there will be plenty of reasons to watch the game, and the halftime show, on Monday night.”
But it’s likely that the President won’t have any of that nonsense and, like Vice President Pence, will simply walk out.
It will be interesting to see what happens.