President Donald Trump stirred up a new sports related controversy, after he appeared to withdraw an invitation for the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, and said NFL owners should fire players who kneel on the field.
Trump’s remarks are likely to stir an already roiling debate about the intersection of politics, sports and race relations. At a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump touched off a firestorm on social media by suggesting NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired by owners, using salty language in doing so.
Although the Warriors have not yet received a formal invitation, Trump’s post on Twitter came just a day after NBA All-Star Stephen Curry ruled out accepting it. Back in February, Curry burned Trump after the CEO of UnderArmour said having a pro-business president was an “asset” for the country.
Traditionally, championship-winning sports teams are asked to visit the White House for a photo-op with the president. In a series of early morning posts on Saturday, Trump called a visit to the White House “a great honor,” and admonished Curry for his resistance.
Trump’s statement in Alabama was interpreted by many to be a reference to Colin Kaepernick, the free agent quarterback who took a knee in protest against police brutality while he was still playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick’s supporters argue that his protest is a factor behind why he hasn’t been acquired by another NFL team.
In a statement on Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded by calling Trump’s comments “divisive” and demonstrative of an “unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” he said. Goodell also lamented “a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”