L. James, Winter Olympians Draw Heat for Criticizing Trump | WYPR

L. James, Winter Olympians Draw Heat for Criticizing Trump

Feb 21, 2018

Credit @KingJames/flickr

Here are four things we know:

One is that Donald Trump is President of the United States.

Two is that, barring some unforeseen occurrence, Donald Trump will be President of the United States until, at least, January 20, 2021.

Third is that something that Trump says or does will draw criticism from significant portions of the American populace.

And fourth is that some of the people who criticize Trump will be athletes.

In case you hadn’t noticed, many who are happy with the first two items are dismayed with people in the third group.

That’s nothing new. There’s always been a level of upset between followers of those in power and those on the outside. That’s the way life is in the good old US of A.

But the level of contentiousness bordering on flat out contempt for sports figures who criticize the president, and especially this president, is remarkable.

From the early days of this administration, when members of the New England Patriots declared last season that they would not visit the White House to later in the year when the Golden State Warriors elected not to go to the Rose Garden, athletes have expressed their discomfit with the goings on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And the resident of said address has wasted no time firing right back at them. Trump disinvited the Warriors at about the time they were saying they wouldn’t come, taking special aim at guard Stephen Curry.

And who could forget the president’s labeling of NFL players who took knees during the playing of the national anthem as sons of bitches?

Many of Trump’s supporters have taken the president’s criticisms of athletes who run opposite of his views as a call-to-arms to attack the athletes themselves, though mostly verbally or through social media.

Three members of the U.S. Olympic team, figure skater Adam Rippon and skiers Gus Kenworthy and Lindsey Vonn, have been critical of Trump and vice president Mike Pence during their moments in the spotlight in Pyeongchang and in recent months.

And they have drawn the wrath of supporters of Trump and Pence, who have come after the three particularly personally.

Then, there’s NBA icon LeBron James, who was recently counseled by Laura Ingraham, a Fox News commentator, to shut up and dribble. This came after James had the temerity to criticize Trump for a perceived inability or unwillingness to attempt to bridge the nation’s deep cultural divide.

James turned down not only Ingraham’s advice to stick to sports, but also declined her rather cynical invitation to debate her on her show.

Though the instances of athletes wading in to political waters is rare and fairly recent, they’re certainly not illegal or unprecedented.

During the Obama administration, former Orioles and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling regularly took verbal shots at the former president and his would-be successor Hillary Clinton.

And Tom Brady declined to go to the White House after Patriots wins during the Obama and Trump administrations, no harm, no foul.

Look, a nation that elected a reality TV star as its president can’t be afraid if a few jocks exercise their rights to criticize said president.

After all, challenging power is the American way.  

And that’s how I see it for this week.