A wave of protests swept across the National Football League on Sunday as President Donald Trump escalated his feud with players who kneel during the US national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice.
Trump ignited a firestorm of criticism after comments on Friday in which he described NFL players who chose to take a knee through renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as “sons of bitches” who should be fired.
The US leader doubled down on those remarks early Sunday, urging fans to boycott the NFL as long as the protests continued.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Yet players throughout America’s most popular sport took a defiant stance on Sunday, kneeling, linking arms or raising clenched fists during the anthem.
Around 130 players could be seen kneeling in the 13 games that took place Sunday, easily the largest such demonstration since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting in 2016.
The first mass demonstration took place at the NFL’s London game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium, where a large number of players from both teams knelt. …
Trump responded to the protests on Twitter. “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable,” he wrote.
In remarks to reporters later Sunday, Trump denied there was a racial dimension to his criticism of activist athletes, most of whom are black.
“This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag,” Trump said. …
Track and field star Allyson Felix, a six-time Olympic gold medallist, also spoke out in support of the protests.
“Enough is enough. We have the power to create change,” she said.
Kaepernick’s protest was aimed at drawing more attention to treatment of minorities in America following a spate of deadly police shootings of black men.
Critics counter that the protests are disrespectful of the country and its military. …
Trump squabbles with star basketball players:
On Saturday, he had also drawn a furious backlash from NBA stars after stating on Twitter that the champion Golden State Warriors and star Stephen Curry would not be invited to attend a White House reception.
Curry had indicated he would not attend the White House reception if invited.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump then wrote.
Trump’s outburst drew a stinging response from across the NBA, with Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James describing the US leader as a “bum.”
Ostensibly about “racial justice” but showing disrespect for the nation by not standing for the national anthem, kneeling would appear to be driven by identity politics — a virtue-signal indicating you are PC and anti-Trump.