Despite the various important issues facing our country right now, President Donald Trump continues tweeting about athletes protesting police brutality and racial inequality during the national anthem. On Saturday night, he took to Twitter to praise the Blackhawks and Blues for honoring the anthem ... by tweeting an old video from last season.
19,000 RESPECTING our National Anthem! #StandForOurAnthem pic.twitter.com/czutyGaMQV— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2017
You’ll recognize that this video isn’t new from the presence of players no longer on the team such as Dennis Rasmussen and Andrew Desjardins. According to USA Today, the video is from Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Trump was elected, and the Blues were celebrating “Military Appreciation Night.”
This is all important to consider given the Blackhawks’ well-known tradition of cheering loudly during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games.
Blackhawks fans have stood and cheered loudly during the anthem dating back to the 1985 conference finals against the Oilers. It’s often the loudest that the United Center gets during any given game, as fans proudly show their patriotism while getting the blood flowing to watch some riveting hockey.
However, amid Trump’s ongoing attacks of NFL players for their pregame anthem protests of issues like police brutality, it seems like he could use the Blackhawks’ tradition as a counter. This might not have been something the team considered, but now it needs to as it gets shoved into the political fray.
It’s fair to say this will be a no-win situation for the Blackhawks. If they told fans that the tradition is going away, Trump would go after the team and the NHL just like he has with the NFL and the NBA recently. If the Blackhawks stay the course, like it appears they will, then Trump can point to the raucous fans at the UC during the anthem and say, “See, they love the flag, they’re on my side.”
Either way, the Blackhawks seem to have a political situation on their hands, and one that probably won’t go away by simply ignoring it. Much of the team’s roster comes from Canada or Europe, but captain Jonathan Toews said recently that the anthem controversy had distracted from the important discussion about the issues being protested. It’s fair to wonder how he’d feel if Trump used the anthem tradition to rally his supporters on his side.
This looks like it’ll be A Thing, and one that won’t disappear soon with the Blackhawks’ home opener against the Penguins on Oct. 5. The crowd will likely be cheering during the anthem before that game, and we’ll have to see what comes of that.
But as many others have said before, the days of “sticking to sports” look increasingly dead, even for the Blackhawks.