Donald Trump and American Sports

The U.S. president was recently booed at a baseball game and an MMA fight. So what? He knows how to work it, according to Valérie de Graffenried. Donald Trump isn’t interested in playing Mr. Nice Guy.

Donald Trump has caused quite a storm at recent sporting events. The president drew boos from the crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden during an MMA fight, and at a World Series baseball game in Washington. But among the boos, the president still received cheers and applause from supporters. Trump’s strength is that he knows how to spin this to his advantage.

A Hug from the POTUS

He recently hosted the Washington Nationals at the White House to celebrate their historic victory, delighted to divert attention away from his impeachment hearings. Players boycotted the ceremony, like many other sports teams before them. Who cares! Kurt Suzuki turned up sporting his “Make America Great Again” cap, earning a hug from the president for his efforts. And now the tables have turned and these are the images that end up making the rounds on social media and making an impact. But on whom?

If Trump divides and polarizes America, this is now true even in baseball and football locker rooms. In basketball, fans of the president are few and far between, and even if there are fans they probably wouldn’t dare openly support Trump (or might even downright deny it). The NBA is a progressive league, with some players regularly standing up and denouncing Trump’s excesses. Take the case, for example, of LeBron James, who blames him outright for using sport to feed racial divisions in the United States.

After football player Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, still without a contract and considered a pariah for daring to boycott the U.S. national anthem in 2016, other black Americans are stepping up to denounce Trump. And they’re not alone. White soccer player Megan Rapinoe has expressed her dislike of the president clearly, saying in no uncertain terms, “I’m not going to the fucking White House!” It was good timing on her part: She was never invited.

But back to American football. There are many Republicans involved in the game. Take, for example, New England Patriots star Tom Brady, married to model Gisele Bündchen, who likes to play golf with the president.

In Washington, Trump was bound to be subject to a few hisses and shouts of “Lock him up!” That’s almost what he was looking for. His campaign team aired a 30-second promotional clip during the last game of the World Series, with the message: “He’s no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington.” A message that would have fallen flat if the president had only appeared in the stadium to a polite smattering of applause and musical fanfare.

He also egged on his hecklers at Madison Square Garden when he announced that he had moved his permanent residence from New York to Florida. UFC president Dana White, a big Trump fan, revealed after the fight that the Secret Service wanted Trump to watch the fight from a suite, but the president preferred to sit right next to the Octagon. Trump likes walkabouts, and boos make them even better. That way he’s sure to steal the show.

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