I do not know why Donald Trump pulls the pin on a verbal grenade and rolls it into the crowded public tent, but he appears to know what he is doing as far as appealing to his base goes. His latest lip attack came during a political rally last Friday in Alabama. The Donald was campaigning for Luther Strange and decided to verbally flay the NFL players who are using the playing of the U.S. National Anthem as their chance to kneel in protest.
The full absurdity and ignorance of the NFL players who are refusing to stand for the anthem was on display in London, England yesterday, where the Jacksonville Jaguars played the Baltimore Ravens. When the U.S. National Anthem was played several of the players dropped to their knees in protest. Yet, when the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen, was played those clowns stood. They did so out of respect. Their message was this–they have no respect for the U.S. flag or anthem.
But the irony of the moment was lost on most of these simpleton athletes–they stood for the National Anthem of a country whose bloody history included bringing slaves to America and imposing colonial rule on black men and women throughout Africa. So much for principle.
The chattering class of the Washington, New York and Hollywood elite are beside themselves over Trump outrageous denunciation. They are savaging him and are in the throes of the delusion that most of America agrees with them. But that is not the case. The NFL is in trouble. Let me give you some of the warning indicators:
- Ratings for Sunday Night Football are down significantly. Last night saw a 10% decline compared to the previous week.
- Two of my buddies in Tampa, Florida (one of them retired military) returned their season tickets today and will not renew for next year.
- Another friend called up DirectTV and canceled his NFL Season Pass. The kid handling the cancellation for DirectTV told my friend that he was the 150th call terminating the NFL subscription that day.
- The formerly San Diego Charger, now in Los Angeles, cannot even fill the tiny 35,000 seat stadium that currently houses them (note, the average NFL stadium will hold at least 75,000 fans).
- YouTube is being flooded with clips of former fans burning their NFL jerseys and hats.
I don't think Donald Trump was shooting from the hip with the lip. I think he knew exactly what he was doing in taking on the Social Justice Warriors keen on emasculating the NFL.
My own view is that playing national anthems at sporting events is something that normally should not be done. Consider the case of major league baseball. I guess at least 40% of the players are not U.S. citizens. But, like good guests, they stand with respect when the anthem is played. If an American is playing ball in Japan I suspect they are fully expected to stand when the Japanese anthem is played. If it were up to me I'd end the practice of raising the flag and singing the anthem.
That said I do understand the outrage among those red blooded American men and women who are fed up with a bunch of pampered, wealthy youngsters who get to pretend that their political views matter one damn bit to the fans. Most fans don't want their sports experience served up politics. Spare us the posturing. Perform great feats of physical skill. Entertain us. But don't lecture us.
That is the message I think Donald Trump understood and is playing to.