The National Football League draft at the end of April is the biggest event following the end of the football season. Through the cooperation of the league and TV stations, the first day of the annual draft draws more than 10 million viewers, making it a model of success in professional sports. The live broadcast of the draft not only generates huge advertising revenue but also gives fans something to talk about during the off-season.
Each season’s draft has many compelling stories. Last year, for example, top draft pick Baker Mayfield’s college career was not looking optimistic, and he even worked part-time as an Uber driver. Yet he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first overall pick and was successful as a rookie starter. This year, the top draft pick also has an interesting story. Kyler Murray is an outstanding baseball and football player. With help from his agent, Scott Boras, he was picked by the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team but decided to focus on football, causing the Athletics to waste a valuable draft pick.
However, Nick Bosa, the NFL draft second pick, took most of the attention after this year’s draft. He played defensive end for Ohio State. At 21 years old, standing 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 263 pounds, he was the only white player in the top five picks this year. He is also a Donald Trump supporter who is possibly unfriendly to African Americans.
On Twitter, Bosa once criticized Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie, which just so happened to be the first superhero movie featuring black protagonists and even won an Oscar. He doesn’t like Beyonce’s music; he thinks it is garbage. He hates former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee on the field in protest, and has called him a clown. Moreover, Bosa has regularly expressed agreement with the opinions of far-right commentators and has liked posts written by friends that contained a vulgar word for African Americans. Although he later deleted these posts from his accounts and apologized, he cannot erase the perception that he is racist.
Many people thought that Bosa’s negative image might cause him to drop from the top draft picks. Yet, a bit surprisingly, the San Francisco 49ers selected him as their second overall pick. And not long after the draft, Bosa received these words of congratulations:
“Congratulations to Nick Bosa on being picked number two in the NFL Draft. You will be a great player for years to come, maybe one of the best. Big Talent! San Francisco will embrace you but most importantly, always stay true to yourself. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
These congratulations came from President Donald Trump. Of the top five draft picks, Trump only congratulated the lone white player, telling him to “stay true to [him]self.” It doesn’t matter that Bosa has been called a racist; the underlying meaning is very clear: Bosa is a conservative football player from a midwestern university. He comes from a family that has generations rooted in America. His great-grandfather was a gangster in Chicago. For the Trump camp, the political overtones are perfect. As election campaigns slowly heat up, the main strategy of conservatives is to consolidate their base. Liberals and minorities who were provoked by this tweet won’t vote for Trump anyway, but the social opposition the tweet caused may further incite hidden racists, facilitating a reenactment of the 2016 results.
Unfortunately, this seems to epitomize democracy in the era of social media. The past notion of trying to make room for different views and appealing to moderate voters is already outdated, replaced by a wholehearted attempt to create conflict. In addition to consolidating diehard supporters, enticing swing voters by rejecting opponents through prejudice, fear, suspicion and hate is being used to win. This situation isn’t just confined to the U.S.; Taiwan is no better.
And so, each of us can only live in this dichotomous world of extremes.
The author is a sports writer and author.