DECRYPTION – Discreet in the media since his defeat against Joe Biden in 2020, Donald Trump plans a return to politics. American sport fears being turned upside down by the Republican Party once again.
The mid-term elections (midterms) will take place on November 8, during which the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested, as well as several local governorships.
The opportunity for the former President of the United States, Donald Trump to organize numerous meetings across the country, in order to prepare for his political return. In sight a second term in the White House in 2024.
A highly publicized personality in the sports world for several years, Donald Trump intends to reuse his aura with certain athletes, owners or American leagues to gain ground.
His mandate marked by political sport
In four years, Donald Trump has very often been linked to sports news, directly or indirectly. The four major leagues have been affected by many political episodes.
“There are three facets in sport: the media, the public, the athletes… From one sport to another, it can change. Representation of the diversity of the American population is wide in sports teams compared to cities”says Marc-Grégor Campredon, French photographer for the teams at the University of Michigan.
Led by LeBron James, a staunch opponent of the Republican president, the NBA was one of the leagues most marked by Trump’s mandate. The champions, for example, have always refused to go to the White House after their finals won as tradition dictates.
Movement Black Lives Matter has prompted many players to demonstrate against police violence and by extension, against Trump’s policy. During the Playoffs 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks team even called for a strike after the murder of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old African-American young man who died of seven bullets in the back by a Kenosha police officer.
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In the NFL, the wide episode of Colin Kaepernick, former 49ers quarterback who knelt during the national anthem, took possession of Donald Trump’s first months at the helm of the country more than ever: “We’re proud of our country, we respect our flag…Wouldn’t you like that when a player disrespects our flag, those NFL team presidents say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field! He’s fired?” then reacted the new American president.
In an interview for FoxNewsDonald Trump also attacked the owners of NFL franchises, saying: “I have many friends who are landlords. If you want the truth, I think they are afraid of their players. And I think that’s a shame. They have to be tough and they have to be smart. Look at the audiences, they are clearly down.»
The MLB and NHL scenes were more discreet during Donald Trump’s mandate, even if the Republican president enjoyed a strong sympathy capital with baseball players (Johnny Damon, Clay Buchholz, Paul O’Neill, John Rocker etc. ) and hockey players (Jack Eichel, Seth Jones, Brent Burns, TJ Oshie, Erik Johnson, Ian Cole etc.)
“Donald Trump has catalyzed a lot of these tensions between sports professionals and sports consumers. He gave voice and space to the Republicans. Trump allowed these people to be part of a platform, to be represented by a strongman. The owners of the teams form this fourth side of the pyramid, they are often Republicans, rich, close to politicians”, underlines Marc-Grégor.
Cautious athletes and leagues
Since the arrival of Joe Biden in Washington, Donald Trump has succeeded in being forgotten in media life, but water has flowed under the bridges and American athletes have not forgotten his four years in the White House which have shook up the sports world.
Long considered a supporter and friend of Trump, NFL legend Tom Brady backtracked recently: “I haven’t spoken to him for many years. Our relationship has been very misinterpreted. My personality is never one to insult anyone.” had then entrusted the quarterback to varietywho proudly sported a red “Make America Great Again” cap in 2015.
Present during Game 4 of the World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros, last October, Donald Trump recalled his bad presidential memories by attracting the wrath of many baseball fans. In the stands with his wife Melania, he took up the “Tomahawk Chop” – a sporting celebration deemed insulting to Native American people.
Following this sports controversy, the MLB quickly took over the matter by playing down the presence of the country’s ex-president: “He called MLB and wanted to come to the game. We were very surprised. Of course we said yes.” the League clarified, while Braves president Terry McGuirk pointed out: “We are apolitical. We are open to everyone who comes to the matches. It’s great that Donald Trump wants to come.
While footballer Megan Rapinoe has often attacked President Trump over his statements about women and LGBTQ+ rights, Donald Trump has come under fire for his remarks about trans athletes at the America First Agenda Summit in Washington DC, beginning of the week : “We shouldn’t allow men to play women’s sports. It’s so disrespectful to women.” referring to New Zealand trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas.
“Owners are starting to disassociate themselves from Trump like Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins who realizes that Trump is getting bad press. He becomes a real pariah who no longer has a platform, who is no longer invited to the right, to the left. There are no more sportsmen who openly support Donald Trump. explains Marc-Grégor.
Golf, horseback riding, NASCAR… Trump plays at home
In order to better prepare for his return to politics, Donald Trump continues to make appearances in several sports competitions, often reserved for the “American high society” and organized in historically republican states.
On May 7, the 45th American president made a stopover in Kentucky, which had been committed to the Republican cause for more than 20 years, for Derby Day, a horse race that is part of the American Triple Crown of equestrian sports organized at the Hippodrome of Churchill Downs, Louisville. A political maneuver that allows the 76-year-old Republican to strengthen his loyal supporters.
Golfer in his spare time and close to Tiger Woods whom he decorated, Donald Trump continues to be present in the circuit, and has even taken a stand on the subject of the LIV Golf Series, a dissident circuit financed by a Saudi fund, which disrupts the circuit. PGA Tour classic: “If you don’t want to take the money now, you won’t get anything when the merger happens except to tell you how smart the early signers were”he wrote on his social network Truth Social on July 18.
“You have really red sports like motorsport, NASCAR. The public who go to see the races in the United States, for the most part it is the Qanon (extreme right conspiratorial group Ed.) and there is little room for change.analyzes Marc-Grégor, who has been living in the United States for ten years.
The Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey (USA) is hosting a LIV Breakout Tour competition this week, July 29-31, while another tournament is scheduled to take place at the Trump National course in Doral (Florida), October 27-30.
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