Just a quick note that I have a new piece up at Splice Today … today, about Donald Trump’s attacks on kneeling football players, and black athletes more generally, are not a “distraction,” but on the contrary show sports to be a part of our cultural discourse, and therefore our political discourse. This should (but won’t) put an end to the idea that athletes and sportswriters should “stick to sports”: sports are part of the culture war like it or not, and thus will always be inherently political.
One misunderstanding I’m risking by saying that these issues are not distractions is that, well, Trump is obviously distracted by them. There’s no doubt that he should be focusing on the disaster in Puerto Rico rather than dragging his attack on NFL protesters out for its fifth day. But by the same token, in the middle of a national emergency, he shouldn’t be going on Alabama radio and attacking John McCain either! And yet we wouldn’t say that politics is a distraction. Trump is just easily distracted, especially when the alternative is something he’s bored by, like people in trouble who need his help. That doesn’t mean that sports themselves are “distractions,” though, nor that, now that Trump has decided to attack black athletes, we should refrain from supporting them.