When will our professional athletes stop disrespecting our flag, president and country? An almost 50-year tradition of championship teams visiting the White House may soon come to an end.
The tension between President Trump and professional athletes has come to a head. Since Trump has taken office, he’s rightly criticized NFL players for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
Recently, the NFL established a new national anthem policy. The NFL decided that players who are on the field must stand for the anthem, but gave players the option to stay in the locker room while it is played.
Sure, this may prevent players from kneeling during the national anthem. But what will the NFL do when members of the teams stay inside the locker room during the anthem? Their absence will be glaring and just as divisive.
Patriotic Americans (such as myself) will continue not to watch the NFL. This policy is simply a band-aid to get viewers back. It won’t work. If you can’t stand for the flag, and put your hand over your heart and sing along to the most beautiful song ever written, then you shouldn’t play a sport professionally where you have the opportunity to make millions of dollars.
Trump tweeted, “Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!” He's right. And former athletes are coming out to defend the president, patriotism and to criticize other professional athletes.
Former MLB player Johnny Damon said, “Hopefully we can all come together and figure this out. You’re making a lot of money in America. I believe you should stand for the flag. I think you should represent the flag.”
Also, former NBA player, LaVar Ball said, "It's their league. If you don't want to do it, get out of their league."
They’re right. They shouldn’t protest the national anthem. The players' message has been lost. What they are doing is showing a lack of respect for our veterans who have fought and died for this country and for these players to be able to play a sport professionally.
So, who will win this battle?
Trump played hard ball this week when he cancelled a planned visit to the White House with the Philadelphia Eagles. Why? Because only 10 players planned to attend the event.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “If this wasn’t a political stunt by the Eagles franchise, then they wouldn’t have planned to attend the event and then backed out at the last minute.”
Trump, however, still held a “Celebration of America” replacement event without the players.
He said, “Maybe it’s about time that we understood: We stand to honor our military, and to honor our country, and to remember the fallen heroes who never made it back home. We stand to show our love for our fellow citizens and our magnificent Constitution.”
Trump was surrounded by the U.S. Marine Band and the U.S. Army chorus. He sang along to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" during the ceremony.
Now, NBA players are piling on. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was asked about Trump canceling the visit with the Eagles. He was asked if he wins the championship if he’ll attend the ceremony at the White House. James said, “I know whoever wins this series, no one wants an invite anyway.”
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr took a swipe at the president saying, “We all look forward to the day when we can go back to just having a celebration of athletic achievement.”
Warriors' star players Steph Curry and Kevin Durant also say they don’t want an invite from the president if they win the championship.
Well, I have news for these pampered, over-paid athletes: When the president invites you to the White House, no matter who the president is, you drop everything and you go!
These athletes showed their true colors this week. Let’s be clear: their protests aren’t about police brutality, it’s about Trump holding them accountable for their unpatriotic actions. These athletes aren’t grown men; they are spoiled cry babies having a temper tantrum.
My advice to the president: don’t waste your time hosting these spoiled, ungrateful, self-centered losers.
- Brittany Jennings is the Executive Producer of "The Kuhner Report" on WRKO AM-680 in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @Brittany_J10