President Trump on Tuesday said he hopes professional football doesn’t return next month if players continue to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S.
“I would say this: If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open,” Trump said on Fox Sports Radio.”
But other than that, I’d love to see them open, and we’re doing everything possible for getting them open,” he said. “They can protest in other ways — they shouldn’t protest our flag or our country.”
Trump said mixing sports and protests turns off the typical fan.”I think it’s been horrible for basketball,” he said. “Look at the basketball ratings. They’re down to very low numbers. Very, very low numbers. People are angry about it.
“I think that the NBA is in trouble — I think it’s in big trouble, bigger trouble than they understand. And frankly, ice hockey, which is doing very well, they didn’t do that … they respected what they’re supposed to be doing. And they’re actually doing very well as I understand it.”
He acknowledged that his weighing in on hot-button issues frequently provokes opposition. “I’ve affected religion, hydroxy[chloroquine] and just about anything else,” he said.
Trump also said it’s important for college football to start up, saying younger people are less vulnerable to COVID-19.
Later in the day, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, two of the Power 5 — the country’s top sports conferences — canceled fall football, a move the president earlier called an overreaction.
“You’re not going to see people dying,” he said. “I think football’s making a tragic mistake.”
He closed the interview with a parting shot at LeBron James, an outspoken critic of the president.
The president quickly picked Michael Jordan in the Jordan-versus-Lebron debate.”Plus, he wasn’t political so people like him better,” Mr. Trump said.
• David Sherfinski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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