During Tuesday’s White House town hall event for Sinclair Broadcast Group’s “America This Week,” President Trump was prompted on one of his favorite talking points, the NFL and NBA’s dwindling television ratings, which have been in steep decline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump has repeatedly expressed his belief that professional sports leagues like the NBA and NFL have done themselves a disservice by aligning with politically-charged movements and social justice causes like Black Lives Matter, arguing that sports and politics should “remain separate” at all costs.
Packers legend Brett Favre didn’t attend Tuesday’s town hall in person but taped a pre-recorded segment, asking Trump to share his thoughts on sports’ increasing intersection with politics. “The NBA and the NFL are struggling with lower ratings, as fans clearly do not want political messaging mixed with their sports,” noted Favre, who was spotted playing 18 holes with Trump at the president’s home course in New Jersey over the summer. “So how should the leagues support and promote an anti-racism position without becoming political and alienating fans?”
Trump’s response was typical with the president doubling down on his previous stance. “People don’t want to see all of the politics. They’ve got enough politics, with me and with everybody else,” Trump explained in comments transcribed by Des Bieler of the Washington Post. “And they don’t want to see it with football or sports, on Sunday or whenever they happen to be watching.”
The NBA and NFL, whose player bodies are both majority African American, have been extremely vocal in their support of Black Lives Matter, calling attention to recent tragedies in Minneapolis (George Floyd), Louisville (Breonna Taylor) and Wisconsin (Jacob Blake) by wearing social justice messages and, in the NFL’s case, painting “End racism” in each end zone. While Trump acknowledges athletes have a right to protest, he’ll never be a fan of in-game activism.
“I think that football ought to get back to football and basketball to basketball,” said Trump, who debated Democratic candidate Joe Biden Thursday night in Nashville. “If people want to protest, they can. But they shouldn’t be protesting on the sidelines during the football game, especially when they are making $10 million a year for something that they’d be doing anyway, for free, if they weren’t in the NFL or in the NBA.”
Favre told the Washington Examiner earlier this month that while he doesn’t think Trump’s stint in the Oval Office has been “perfect,” he believes the president has done a “good job” overall as America’s commander-in-chief.