President Donald Trump said Black Lives Matter is a Marxist group and that professional sports players kneeling in support of the group are disrespecting the American flag reported Fox News. The comments were made during a phone call with the Fox News show Fox & Friends on Wednesday.
Trump criticized the Black Lives Matter group by pointing to their origins seven years ago after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman had shot Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. “Black Lives Matter, when did it start? Marching down the street screaming ‘pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon.’ They were talking about policemen and women.” Trump said. He went on to say that, “All of sudden, this is taking on this air of great respectability. Well, how does it start there? It’s a Marxist group. It’s a Marxist group that is not looking for good things for our country and now I see these leagues all kneeling down.”
The president was referring to the return of the National Basketball League (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) to play after months of being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Both the NBA and MLB have encouraged their players to express their personal beliefs during the playing of the national anthem and both leagues have given approval to Black Lives Matter by placing the group’s name either on the field or in the empty stands.
“When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our national anthem, what I do personally is turn off the game and the ratings for basketball are way down,” Trump said. He continued, “I hear some others are way down too, including baseball. All of a sudden now baseball is in the act. We have to stand up for our flag, we have to stand up for our country, we have to stand up for our anthem and a lot of people agree with me. Hey, if I am wrong, then I am going to lose an election and that’s OK with me. I am always going to stand for our country and flag.”
Trump was correct in his citing of the declining ratings of basketball and baseball games since their restart. The NBA had a very impressive 3.4 million viewers tuning in to its first game on July 31, an all-Los Angeles clash between the Lakers and Clippers. However, the next night the ratings dropped steeply with the Boston Celtics-Milwaukee Bucks game garnering 1.3 million viewers while a later Dallas Mavericks-Houston Rockets matchup had 1.7 million watching. MLB suffered a similar drop in ratings after the July 30 opening night game between the New York Yankees and defending World Series champion Washington Nationals had 4.01 million watching on ESPN. The next night a New York Mets-Atlanta Braves game on the same network drew only 922,000 viewers, just behind a Milwaukee Brewers-Chicago Cubs game that managed 1.0 million. Critics blamed the ratings drop on the leagues’ embrace of politics and social justice messages while sports fans generally tune in to watch games to escape from day to day realities.
Ethan Strauss of the Athletics tweeted, “In general, both leagues aren’t getting the audience one might expect from a nation that’s been deprived of entertainment for months,” reported theSportsRush.com.