Why is it okay for the President to be disrespected at a nationally appreciated past time: the World Series?
This past week, President Donald Trump attended game five of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros. While this is not uncommon for presidents to do, this attendance was met with much hostility. When he was shown on the jumbotron, loud boos rained down from the crowd and a chant of “lock him up” started from the fans in attendance.
First of all, it is important to note that this is a very common thing for presidents to do. According to many websites, including an article by Heavy, Donald Trump will be the first president since William Howard Taft in 1910 to not throw out the ceremonial first pitch while in office.
The Washington Post reported that the Nationals did not invite Trump or care that he was there. In an attempt to remain discreet, he appeared only eight minutes before the first pitch and left during the eighth inning. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the President’s “view was that in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible, he would arrive at game five sometime after the game began so it wouldn’t interfere with fans getting into the stadium.”
In essence, it was Trump’s choice not to throw the first pitch and draw attention to himself. This plan went well until the third inning when the President was announced over the public address system during the tribute to veterans.
In the video that went viral almost immediately after the announcement the crowd started booing and chanting “lock him up.” Almost as if he was unaware of what was happening, Trump continued to clap and wave at the crowd.
However, that was not the only thing to happen to him that night. Sitting right behind home plate, two veterans of the Iraq war sat holding signs reading “veterans for impeachment.” Alan Pitts and Naveed Shah were the creators of this sign that ended up going viral.
When asked for a comment, Pitts remarked, “We’re pushing Democratic members of Congress to uphold their oath of office which is similar to the oath that I took when I joined the military: to defend the country against enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Why is there all this controversy surrounding what is supposed to be America’s favorite past time? Instead of fighting over who has the better team, we’re fighting over political views.
What does this say about where we are as a nation?
Those protestors and chanters had every right to say what they said. Like all journalists, I am very supportive of the first amendment. However, this reveals that we may be facing the deepest political divide that we have ever seen as a nation.
Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch is supposed to be symbolic that no matter what our nation is going through, there’s never such a divide that we cannot find common ground. One of the most momentous things former President George W. Bush did was throw out a ceremonial pitch not a month after Sept. 11, 2001. This signaled a unity, hope and future for Americans with nothing more than a stadium united by a common desire: a love for baseball and America.
If America’s favorite past time can’t bring us back together, then I am despondent that much else can. We should recognize that the political arena is separate from the sporting arena – and the President is allowed to take on both personas. While everyone can say whatever they please, is the right time to express your political preference at a baseball game?
If we continue to bring unrest to every event that we hold sacred, we are going to very quickly run out of places to go that are a-political, and become a nation with separate baseball leagues, schools or even states for each political party. We are walking a slippery slope.
So, while you have the right to express your opinion, can we all just agree to love baseball for its own sake and leave politics out of it? Does that mean that Trump should not be able to attend public sporting events? Absolutely not. One of the main jobs of the President is to be the head of state and bring a kind of national presence to American life. Furthermore, seeing him as a real citizen and fan of the game above his politics is important.
Before we taint a sport forever and tarnish our ability to find common ground, we should take a step back and realize that politics do not supersede human decency.
Maybe that means holding opinions quiet for a couple of hours during play; maybe that means respecting the office and not the person, but whatever it looks like – do it for the love of the game.
For the full video of the President on the jumbotron click here.