It’s what you think of Donald Trump.
The President’s decision to use the bully pulpit to start calling political plays from the sidelines has brought the all-Trump, all-the-time mania that has raged through Hollywood, late-night talk shows and the arts roaring into professional sports.
It was probably inevitable, given the way he has seized the nation’s psyche since his shock win in last year’s presidential election, that the most powerful man in the world would sooner or later turn his attention — and his volcanic Twitter feed — toward America’s most powerful sports league.
His decision to do so now threatens not just to embroil the NFL in politics for years to come but to reshape the experience of those who watch it.
Wading into the debate about protests by mostly African-American players during pre-game national anthem ceremonies, Trump is exacerbating questions about his own attitude toward race and his apparent determination to keep tugging at the societal and cultural fault lines in American politics.
He kept up his end of the controversy Monday morning, comparing on Twitter what he saw as the patriotism of NASCAR to the “disrespecting” of the US and its flag. But invoking auto racing — which is especially popular in the conservative south, the epicenter of Trump’s political support — will do little to quiet the fervor or dispute the suggestion that he is stoking racial tensions.
While some of the most prominent players in the NFL and the NBA are black, auto racing has long been viewed as one of the whitest of professional American sports.