President Donald Trump’s recent surge in sports attendance is hardly a coincidence, writes one of his biggest sports media detractors. He recently attended a World Series game and a UFC event, hosted the baseball champion Washington Nationals at the White House and this Saturday he’ll be in attendance at the LSU-Alabama football game.
Armour claims Trump (seen in photo with his wife and friends) is more polarizing than four former presidents who were also booed at sports events combined: Barack Obama, Harry Truman, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. “There is nothing coincidental about President Donald Trump’s sudden interest in sports,” she writes.
The clock is ticking on Trump’s re-election campaign and, like other politicians, he needs to make himself relatable at sports events, Armour says, before adding this “but monkey”:
“But Trump also has not been above using sports for his own gain. He has denigrated Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe and other athletes who have protested during the national anthem to draw attention to racism and social inequality. His interest in public sporting events has just happened to coincide with the escalation of the impeachment proceedings.”
Armour enlisted a U.S. News and World Report correspondent and the president of the University of Alabama College Democrats to help make her case against President Trump.
Kenneth Walsh has been a White House correspondent for U.S. News and World Report since 1986 and he wrote the book of Celebrity in Chief: A History of the President and the Culture of Stardom. “Now that his election campaign is in full gear, he needs to use every opportunity he can to show he participates in popular culture,” Walsh says in the USA Today story.
“He needs to bond with the country in as many ways as he can, and use sports to bond with key constituencies,” Walsh added. “He recognizes different sports appeal to different people, just as different policies appeal to different people.”
Armour expands on Walsh’s view, saying Trump is more calculated than that. “Trump craves adoration, the kind of fawning reception he gets at his rallies, and he’d go to a tiddlywinks tournament if it means people will cheer and chant his name. If it happens at a nationally televised event, or will be captured on video that he can promote on Twitter, all the better.”
After weathering tough receptions at recent World Series and UFC events, President Trump relished the support he got from members of the Washington Nationals earlier this week. Saturday’s LSU-Bama matchup in a red state is the game of the year in college football, and Armour says Trump is capitalizing on the opportunity.
“LSU-Alabama would seem to be an equally friendly environment. Trump won Tuscaloosa County by almost 20 points in 2016, and his net approval rating in Alabama is higher than in any other state,” Armour writes. But nothing is guaranteed, she adds.
Armour grilled Jason Castillo, president of the University of Alabama College Democrats, about heightened security, wait times and traffic jams in Tuscaloosa Saturday:
“That’s causing a little bit of frustration among students. There’s less time for tailgating and more time waiting in line.”
This leads Armour to create straw man Republicans who may get irritated with Trump “when they think a president is using a game or sporting event solely for show.”
Armour queues up Walsh again for another incriminating quote: “One of the dangers of presidents, in being very visible sports fans, is if people feel they are going too far and just using sports for crass political reasons.” The president is willing to take the chance of getting a warm reception, though, and, “That fits in to his re-election purposes.”
Cynically, Armour suggests another potential opportunity for President Trump to get fan love if it doesn’t happen Saturday.
“Oh, look! There’s a NASCAR race,” Armour concludes.