Trump, Reagan, and Their Soccer Legacies…So Far

Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan, both Republicans, ran on the same slogan—Make America Great Again. Reagan evolved into a centrist due to the Democrat majority in Congress. Both election victories and campaigns grew out of distrust with the Democratic presidents before them and the government’s overreach, lies, and secrets kept from the American people. They pledged to end the plight of the average citizen who felt the government failed to meet their needs in addition to an imaginary decline of their rights when minorities gained civil rights and the movement away from white America. Yet, as of this moment, their legacies in American soccer history remain distinctly different.

In my master’s thesis, “Americanizing the Beautiful Game: The Rise of Mainstream Soccer in the United States, 1960-2005,” I devoted an entire chapter to how the United States gained the bid to host the 1994 World Cup, which included public, influential support from former president Ronald Reagan in 1988. He also pledged support for the 1986 World Cup bid when US Soccer attempted to bring it to the United States after Columbia failed to hold up FIFA’s requirements. Reagan, who knew nothing about soccer, understood the broader cultural and political implications and evolved into one of the main reasons for FIFA awarding the ’94 World Cup to the US; however, until my thesis, scholars glossed over his role. Reagan showed his support with personal letters to Joao Havelange, invitations to wine and dine at the White House, and a short video recording to be shown during US Soccer’s bid presentation. With Reagan’s support, each Federal agency agreed to fully implement policies, especially regarding transportation, housing, and international travel.

Reagan led the conservative movement after Barry Goldwater left its forefront, and he started the “Reagan Revolution.” Yet, his policies never featured the same xenophobia demonstrated by Trump, Steve Bannon, and the rest of the administration with their Muslim Ban.

Over the past two months, FIFA and UEFA both released comments about how the ban might preclude the United States from hosting a World Cup because Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen all compete to qualify for the tournament. The ban would prevent the players, coaching staff, journalists, fans, and more from attending a US-hosted World Cup. Already Justin Meram, an Iraqi international player in MLS, has turned down a national team call-up for a game in Iran. In February, a Muslim player turned down a DP-contract with an MLS team due to his concerns about the safety for Muslims in the United States.

This situation brings up a financial question. How much will the ban cost US Soccer and possibly the federal government? If Trump keeps the ban, the only foreseeable way for the US to win the bid would be through bribery or Trump enforces a temporary suspension of the ban. Should he win reelection, the forty-sixth president would be inaugurated mere months before the 2026 World Cup should begin. Bribery worked for Qatar and Russia regardless of their human rights violations. Yet, a bribe from US Soccer would demonstrate enormous hypocrisy since the FBI investigated FIFA for corruption in 2015.

Donald Trump, like most other Republican politicians, idolizes Ronald Reagan. He likely compares himself to the former president, but Reagan understood politics and held elected office before his presidential election. Trump wants to “Make America Great Again,” but so far he has damaged the country and apparently will continue to do so. Hosting the 2026 World Cup will not fulfill his campaign promise nor will not hosting it; but, Trump’s immigration ban shows the broad impact of politics, even on sport.

I Cannot Stand in Silence: An Original Poem

"I Cannot Stand in Silence"

I cannot stand in silence.

I will not retreat.

I will not back down

Even as I frown at

Your neglect for humanity.


~
We must protect

Our neighbors and our strangers,

Our similarities and our differences,

Our contemporaries and our futures.


~
I will be

Loud, vociferous, proud

Until I lay my head down.


~
I will protest

Through pain, suffering, and

Your sheer disregard for humanity.


~
I will rise, I will stand, and I will fight

In homage and memory of

Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Susan B. Anthony, Harvey Milk,

Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel,

And the thousands of others who came before me.


~
I reject the

Homogenization of humanity.

We are global, we are vocal,

We are strong, we are diverse.

We must embrace our differences

----Our scars, our wrinkles,

Our mannerisms, our struggles,

Our skin.


~
No one is the same.

No one deserves neglect.

Everyone deserves civil liberties and rights.

Beyond the religions, the nationalities,

the ethnicities, the classes, the identities,

We are one,

We are equals,

We are human.


~
I cannot stand in silence.

I will not retreat.

I will not back down

Even as I frown at

Your neglect of humanity.

Patrick H. Salkeld, 1/12/2017

Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest: Patriotism vs. Nationalism

“I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for… To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards that it says it lives by.”[i]

During the National Football League (NFL) pre-season this year, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand as the National Anthem played before each game started. American football fans and non-followers alike erupted in uproar because of the supposed disrespect Kaepernick showed to the United States and the veterans who fought for freedom. His actions struck more of a chord than the meaning behind his decision.

As a professional athlete in the most popular American sport, Kaepernick chose to use his celebrity platform to protest police brutality and the senseless killing of hundreds of black men and women. In the month after he started his protest on August 26, police killed at least fifteen black people according to a Huffington Post article.[ii] Yet, many Americans of all races care more about his kneeling than the blacks being killed by police as shown by the lack of public outrage from those white conservatives over black deaths compared to Kaepernick’s actions.

Other athletes, who range from professionals to high school players of all sports to peewee football players, followed his lead as Kaepernick gained more attention from the media. Shaun King, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, regularly shares images of them kneeling during the anthem.

His criticizers refer to his actions as un-American and unpatriotic; however, they confuse patriotism with nationalism. Patriotism means devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country whereas nationalism means excessive patriotism and chauvinism. Charles de Gaulle explained the difference succinctly, “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism is when hate for people other than your own comes first.”[iii]

Colin Kaepernick wants the United States to stop oppressing black people and chose to kneel because he loves his people.[iv] He desires to make the country better and used his status to bring attention to the need for reform.

In contrast, his criticizers evoked nationalism with their reactions. They consider his actions against the law; yet, the United States Flag Code never specifically deemed not standing or not putting your right hand over your heart illegal actions (§177. Conduct during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag). In fact, it says,

Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. (author’s emphasis)[v]

The codes, however, warn against certain actions (§176. Respect for flag) now condoned by society, such as:

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise imprinted on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.[vi]

If society interprets not standing during the National Anthem as illegal, then it needs to immediately stop its manufacture of apparel, bedding, drapery, costumes, and uniforms with depictions of the American flag and punish the offenders with “a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both, in the discretion of the court” (§ 3. Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag).[vii] Instead, society uses the American flag for commercial and capitalist purposes and inherently disrespects the symbol it criticizes Kaepernick for “disrespecting.” This contradiction reveals the blatant cherry picking of Americans to only heed what pertains to their argument and disregard the rest—negationism. In other words, they act no different than Holocaust deniers who refuse to see the historical evidence that proves the Holocaust occurred.

Their criticism of Kaepernick and his “unpatriotic” actions deflect from the true issue at hand—treatment of blacks in the United States. They refuse to acknowledge racial tension and inequality continue to exist in America. Since these problems fail to affect them, racial oppression remains nonexistent in their political discourse and therefore must be imaginary.

Douglas Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name reveals another aspect of United States history little known to mainstream American society—convict leasing after the Civil War. Law enforcement arrested black men and women for vagrancy, actual crimes, or for no reason then sold them to corporations for whom they worked in worse conditions than antebellum slavery. Their employers forced them to live in inhospitable housing, starved them, regularly punished them, and worked them often until they died of exhaustion. Because the employers paid little money for them, the black workers could easily be replaced unlike in antebellum slavery where they cost hundreds and thousands of dollars and therefore became investments.

Whites, for centuries, treated blacks as inhuman, and to this day, whites collectively treat them as secondary citizens. A standard of racial superiority continues to exist as seen in the political rhetoric of the Republican and Democratic parties and in both the liberal and conservative medias.

Kaepernick is no less an American than anyone else simply because he refuses to stand during the National Anthem. In this author’s opinion, he shows more patriotism and love for his country than thousands of other Americans who claim to love their country.

 

[i] Nick Wagoner, “Bills fans boo Colin Kaepernick, chant ‘USA’ before he kneels,” ESPN, October 16, 2016, http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/17807180/buffalo-bills-fans-chant-usa-coin-kaepernick-san-francisco-49ers-kneels.

[ii] Travis Waldron and Julie Craven, “Here’s How Many Black People Have Been Killed by Police Since Colin Kaepernick Began Protesting,” Huffington Post, September 20, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colin-kaepernick-police-killings_us_57e14414e4b04a1497b69ba6?.

[iii] Romain Gray, “To Mon Général,” Life, May 9, 1969, 29.

[iv] Steve Wyche, “Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during National Anthem,” National Football League, August 27, 2016, http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000691077/ article/colin-kaepernick-explains-protest-of-national-anthem.

[v] “United States Code,” The Flag of the United States of America, http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html#173.

[vi] “United States Code,” The Flag of the United States of America, http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html#173.

[vii] “United States Code,” The Flag of the United States of America, http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html#173.

Article at World Soccer Talk about Tim Howard’s MLS Return

Check out my article at World Soccer Talk where I discuss Tim Howard, his return to MLS, and its negative consequences for Zac MacMath’s career.

Tim Howard’s Role at Colorado Rapids is Hurting Zac MacMath’s Career

Acknowledgments for “The YWCA’s Y-Chapel of Song and Central Plate”

 

Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 94, Number 1
Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 94, Number 1

Yesterday I received complimentary copies of the Chronicles of Oklahoma‘s Volume 94, Issue Number 1, which features my article “The YWCA’s Y-Chapel of Song and the Central Plate” about the University of Central Oklahoma’s Y-Chapel of Song. Because it is my first print publication, I decided to write this acknowledgements post to thank several people for their help.

I first learned about the Y-Chapel of Song when my wife, Helen, and I became engaged and started to look at wedding locations. We decided upon the Y-Chapel partly because of its cost, but also due to its location on campus. Several months later, I began my research shortly after I completed Historical Research and continued the project for Dr. Lacher’s “Social/Cultural History of the United States since 1877” class.2016-07-09 13.47.46

As I researched the Y-Chapel further, I discovered amazing women throughout history on UCO’s campus. They must be remembered, recognized, and respected. I hope my article will stimulate more interest in Oklahoma and Edmond women’s history.

Dedication

As the publication process progressed, my grandfather Jerry Harrah passed away in April 2015. Before I received an acceptance letter, I decided to dedicate this article to him. He greatly impacted my life, but unfortunately he never saw my work in print.

Acknowledgements

There are several people I need to thank for their assistance with the research, writing, and editing of my article.

Thank you to:

  • Dr. Katrina Lacher for allowing me to write this paper for one of her classes and for helping me prepare the article for publication.
  • Heidi Vaughn for allowing me to research the Central Plate in the Laboratory of History Museum.
  • Dr. Mark Janzen for allowing me to continue my Y-Chapel of Song research about the Central Plate for his Museum Management course.
  • Deborah Baker for allowing me to research at the Edmond Historical Society & Museum and hiring me to work at the museum for two years.
  • The Chambers Library Archives & Special Collections staff for pulling the archival material collected by Dr. Jessie Newby Ray.
  • Elizabeth Bass, the Chronicles of Oklahoma editor, for accepting my article for publication.
  • My parents, Nancy and David, in-laws Bill and Diane Braddock, grandparents, and extended family for supporting me along the way.
  • Finally, Helen Salkeld for giving me a chance five years ago, marrying me in the Y-Chapel of Song, and being my best friend.

On Kevin Durant’s Decision to Leave the OKC Thunder: Did Oklahoma Politics and Society Play a Role?

I rarely watch or follow professional basketball, but Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the OKC Thunder caught my attention. I expected pandemonium to break out in Oklahoma—and to no one’s surprise, fans erupted with disappointment, heartbreak, and disgust. They uploaded videos of themselves burning (and shooting in at least one case) Durant’s jersey, and journalists wrote articles in response to his announcement.[i] The commentary and reactions made me think more about Durant’s decision. Does his departure reflect the disparaging atmosphere in Oklahoma more than simply wanting to win an NBA championship?

In his article, Berry Tramel wrote, “Kevin Durant isn’t the man we thought he was…We thought Durant was emotionally invested in the Thunder, if not the entire city and state…” Tramel also called Durant “a typical Millenial.”[ii] Say what you want about the Millenial generation, but I think other factors played a role in Durant’s departure.

Since I moved to Oklahoma in August 2010, I have watched the state struggle. The over reliance on the energy industry left the state with an expansive budget hole. As the state legislature and officials tried to restructure the budget, the average middle and lower-class citizens began to suffer. Primary, secondary, and higher education all face strenuous budget cuts this upcoming academic year and in the future. Teachers have left Oklahoma to find jobs elsewhere. The state government officials also reduced the financial support for medical services. Numerous legislators have tried to make abortions illegal and strip away the rights of the LGBTQ community by declaring these rights attacks on religious freedom.

Yet, unsurprisingly, people appeared to care more about Kevin Durant possible leaving than the worst education system in the nation, the failing economy, and the attempts to take civil rights away from people. Governor Mary Fallin even offered him a cabinet position in an attempt to lure him into staying.[iii] The Thunder serves as an easy distraction to the many issues facing Oklahoma and not having Durant on the team might decrease the success, which in turn might bring more attention to those problems.

During his time in Oklahoma, Durant performed countless philanthropic deeds. He donated money and his services to people who needed it. One might say it seems he cared more about the welfare of the state than its own legislative body.

Durant penned an article for The Players Tribune to announce his decision and explain his reasoning. He wrote,

The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player – as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth.[iv]

As I read his article, the phrases, which I bolded, stood out in my mind. Did Oklahoma’s disparaging political, economic, and social status partially influence his decision to leave?

In her article, “OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant’s Departure Has Been a Major Blow to General Manager Sam Presti,” Jenni Carlson reported about the treatment Durant received from Presti before and during the player’s career with the Thunder. The article alludes that Presti—in a way—shelters the Thunder players from society at large by “[giving] treatment that is better than anywhere else” with the so-called Thunder Way. Carlson likely meant with this statement that the players receive better treatment with the Thunder than they might with any other team; however, they almost assuredly receive better support than most Oklahomans. It begs the question – how much can he continue to grow personally in a state that struggles to effectively provide for its citizens, but treats its upper class with the utmost care?[v]

Kevin Durant left the OKC Thunder to better himself not only as a player, but also as a human being. People focus on Durant seemingly wanting to solely win a championship “[through] an unnecessary shortcut” because he joined “a team that just won 73 games and just played in the last two NBA Finals.”[vi] By leaving Oklahoma, Durant disappointed thousands of fans and he understood this consequence. Sure, he left an unfinished legacy when he decided to not lead the Thunder to any more NBA Finals, but might living in a more progressive state be a more appealing option than living in a place where racism, homophobia, and xenophobia thrive more than in other locations?

 

[i] Shaun King, “In Oklahoma, Angry White Men With Assault Rifles Simulate a Brutal Lynching of Kevin Durant,” New York Daily News, July 5, 2016, http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/king-white-men-assault-rifles-simulate-lynching-durant-article-1.2699588.

[ii] Berry Tramel, “OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant isn’t Who We Thought He Was, and That’s Our Fault,” The Oklahoman, July 6, 2016, http://newsok.com/article/5508240.

[iii] “Kevin Durant has an Offer…From Gov. Mary Fallin,” Tulsa World, June 12, 2016, http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/government/kevin-durant-has-an-offer-from-gov-mary-fallin/article_74bd15ec-45ff-57d6-b0f4-8458e45e8b4c.html.

[iv] Kevin Durant, “My Next Chapter,” The Players Tribune, July 4, 2016, http://www.theplayerstribune.com/kevin-durant-nba-free-agency-announcement/.

[v] Jenni Carlson, “OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant’s Departure Has Been a Major Blow to General Manager Sam Presti,” The Oklahoman, July 6, 2016, http://newsok.com/article/5508398.

[vi] Darnell Mayberry, “Charles Barkley: ‘Kevin Durant Trying to Cheat His Way to a Championship,” NewsOK Blogs, July 6, 2016, http://newsok.com/article/5508330; Reggie Miller, “Kevin Durant Traded a Sacred Legacy for Cheap Jewelry,” Bleacher Report, July 6, 2016, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2650244-reggie-miller-kevin-durant-traded-a-sacred-legacy-for-cheap-jewelry?_ts=1467825227.