One thing we definitely know about president-elect Donald Trump is that he is divisive. He left himself open to questions with some of his comments during the presidential race. Now the sports world is reacting to his victory.
First it was the odd protest by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans sat during the national anthem on Sunday in protest of Donald Trump’s win. His protest ended only a day later with a written statement. Evans may have not even voted, but that doesn’t matter he has the right to protest. Evans was just the beginning.
ESPN is reporting that three NBA teams will not stay at Trump hotels. The Dallas Mavericks are one of those teams. Owner Mark Cuban has been a very vocal critic of Trump during the run up to the election. The Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks will also change their hotel accommodations to avoid Trump properties. The NBA teams not staying at Trump hotels shouldn’t kill the properties bottom line, but it’s not good press.
Which brings us to Trump’s biggest sports-business crossover: golf. Yahoo! did a great job covering Trump’s business risks. There has already been criticism of the USGA playing its U.S. Women’s Open at a Trump course and there was some before he won the election.
Trump’s golf courses are a big money-makers for his business empire. The easiest way to get people to want to play at a course is to have said course on television as much as possible. Trump being president could hurt in two ways: the people who disagree with him aren’t playing there and may protest, and the golf world needs to stay away from any and all improprieties. It’s very easy for someone to say — even if it is not true — that a certain sponsor, or governing body is in Trump’s pocket because of his position of power.
Before we start saying that Trump supporters may want to play at his course, check out his voting demographics. It is pretty well accepted he won because he carried a lot of disenfranchised blue collar voters. Those voters can’t afford to play at Trump. Trump himself said that golf should be an aspirational game, he said “let golf be elitist.” That’s very different from his anti-establishment, anti-elitist message on the campaign trail.
The thing is, right now people are interested in the president-elect — good or bad. People are taking stands against his businesses — no one said running for president was good for the bottom line. The reactions and public displays may change once he is President. Governing and campaigning are two entirely different things. His rhetoric will surely soften. There will be other causes sports personalities and the media will cover. Yes, there will be a protest at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, just like there was protests around Augusta during the 2003 Masters.
A lot of the other sports protests — not staying at a Trump hotel on a road trip — will die down. That doesn’t mean teams will move back to the property, it just means it won’t be covered as intensely as it is now. It will kick back up again when the first player on a championship team refuses to go to the White House, but that won’t be a first: Tim Thomas, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, James Harrison and Larry Bird all did that already.
The odd thing is, his election as president may end up hurting his business interests. He is no longer in the background. Every decision he makes is going to anger someone — one side or the other — which could create business problems. The Michael Jordan myth of not endorsing political candidates because republicans buy shoes too plays here.
In the end things may die down, players will have other causes, and the sports world will move on.