Donald Trump’s boisterous nationalist indoctrination of the NFL anthem protestors, despite a defiant uprising, has in reality been a surprising success. Having launched scathing attacks on the protesting protagonists and ordered fans to boycott games, the American public have seemingly bowed to the squawking of its orange-skinned commander.
Ticket sales fell by a startling 18% last week and viewing figures for the season have plummeted by 11%. Trump’s hubristic tweets have been the incendiary to the deep-seated and interminable division within American society, typified by the stirring scene of former army ranger, Alejandro Villanueva, standing alone, hand-on-heart, for the anthem as his teammates remained in the tunnel.
Alejandro Villanueva was the only Steeler to come out for the National Anthem, standing in the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/L4EtxRQSvA
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 24, 2017
The anthem protest has become a tale of two racially charged odiums; those revolted by the president’s comments and those stung by the striking protests. Yet as pressure’s poured onto NFL players, owners and fans alike, it would appear Trump’s continued dissent has, in fact, been somewhat successful in stifling the protests.
As the triumphant leader continuously bleats beleaguering cacophonies from his impertinent gullet, the debate has besieged the players into an uncomfortable position. Trump’s vociferous exclamations and twisting of the players’ supposed ‘disrespect for their country and military’ has unsurprisingly seen many players, perhaps also under pressure from owners and sponsors, taking a rather less inflammatory approach. Wavering from Colin Kaepernick’s bellicose kneel, many chose instead to link arms or exhibit their own form of protest. Their teams having to anxiously proclaim their appreciation for the nation and its armed forces, despite it being racial discrimination which they’re actually standing against.
— NFL (@NFL) September 29, 2017
The growing adversity to ‘taking a knee’ has undoubtedly diluted the effectiveness of the protests, coupled with the molesting fury of the right-wing white American public, who make up the majority of the NFL’s viewing audience. 62% of white Americans disapprove of the protests and only 48% of Trump’s incendiary comments- a startling statistic. Trump has seemingly won his war; the sport’s commerciality has been thrown into an ugly disrepute and viewing figures and ticket sales have toppled under his instruction. The daring players, who sought to take a stand, have been suppressed, even maligned, via his pious demeanour- temporarily at least.
However, the ugly make-up and racial tension within the NFL has been well and truly exposed. Primarily made up of black players, it’s near exclusively managed, governed and owned by white Americans. The same owners who protested with the players after Trump’s order to fire ‘those sons of bitches’, had in essence done exactly that to Colin Kaepernick.
Trump’s Machiavellian antics, once again, became a show of loutish and provocative behaviour, aggravating the already deeply ingrained racial tension both within and outside of the sport. Yet despite seemingly quashing the anthem protests, an uncomfortable disharmony has been overtly displayed to all and having been a sport confined to the North American continent, it’s become the subject of global focus.