Sport molded my character – and Trump has learned none of its lessons (The Guardian)

The best athletes are living embodiments of traits the president is sorely lacking: discipline, hard work, focus, teamwork and sportsmanship

Mon 11 Jun 2018 

Donald Trump’s presidency has made one thing agonizingly clear: he doesn’t understand the meaning of sports in America any better than he knows the words to God Bless America. He doesn’t understand athletes, fans, teamwork, or even locker room talk. But as with most things, he doesn’t let his woeful lack of knowledge interfere with his presidential decisions or proclamations, as when he recently accused Canada of burning down the White House in the War of 1812 … 55 years before there was a Canada. His brand of vacuous but venomous thinking is now being directed at athletes. His disinviting of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl winners from a White House celebration because of their lack of respect for the national anthem – even though no one on the Eagles team knelt in the entire season – is only one of many flagrant fouls he’s committed against the sports community, from bullying NFL owners to not inviting to the White House the Minnesota Lynx, last season’s WNBA champions. In the past, Trump has tried to rally popular support by ranting against an imaginary “war on Christmas,” but it’s his own very real War on Sports that may be the bridge too far.

Sports have a special place in American culture and values. And our devotion to sports is not just as fans cheering for our local team or athlete to triumph, we also see them as a valuable tool to teach our children basic morals and manners. As Billie Jean King said, “Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose – it teaches you about life.” For many, sports are the less formal companion to religion. At their best, athletes are living embodiments of discipline, hard work, focus, teamwork, and sportsmanship. We watch them, even when they’re bruised, battered, and bloody, pushing the boundaries of physical limitations, setting records, inspiring the rest of us to go further than we thought possible.

Trump’s own relationship with the values of sports indicates why he has no respect for teams or athletes. The golden rule of sports is never cheat. Although Trump constantly brags that he’s a great golfer – Golf Digest analysis concludes he’s “slightly above average” – at least seven people who’ve played against him have accused him of cheating. The lesson parents and coaches often emphasize to our children is that if you cheat in sports, you’ll cheat in other things. Porn star Stormy Daniels, as well as a former Playboy model, claim Trump cheated on his wife with them. Trump had to pay $25m to settle with students who felt cheated by the unfulfilled promises of Trump University. Trump never learned what every kid in Little League is taught on day one: cheating is a crutch for the incompetent, not a tool for success.

Another sacred lesson of sports is the importance of teamwork – the ideal of placing the welfare of the group above the welfare of the individual. Embodied in the concept is that the group doesn’t stifle the individual, but rather provides support for individuals to thrive. Clearly, American’s can see that Trump has no skills picking a winning team or of supporting the team. Instead, he wants to be the star player and thinks everyone should feed him the ball, even though he constantly misses his shots. Over 35 senior White House senior officials have left the White House in the past year and several have been indicted for criminal behavior, including Trump’s election campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Add to that Trump’s continual demeaning of his hand-picked team-mate, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and you have one of the most dysfunctional and ineffectual political teams in history.

Read entire article at The Guardian.

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