For the second time in two weeks the President of the United States openly attacked and demanded sports personalities be fired for either calling him out or disagreeing with his opinions.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,’ ” Trump said while speaking at a campaign rally for Senator Luther Strange (R-Ala). Adding later via twitter on Saturday

These comments come after the White House demanded that ESPN anchor Jemele Hill be fired for comments she made about Trump on September 13 per the Washington Post.

Trump’s comments stirred up reactions from many players across the league.

As a result, both the NFL and NFLPA came out in support of players exercising their right to protest. When Sunday finally rolled around every NFL game had some form of anthem protest or player display ranging from locking arms and kneeling to some teams not even leaving their locker room for the national anthem.

Fans, sports personalities and political pundits sounded off, too. Some were in support of the players saying that athletes are well within their rights to protest. Others accused the players of being disrespectful and ungrateful to the country. Many said that the players and sports media personalities simply “stick to sports”.

As much as many fans want sports to be a politics free zone, that simply isn’t a possibility anymore and frankly it never was. Sports has always been a key factor in political change in this country. Colin Kaepernick and the many other players who protested police brutality by demonstrating during the national anthem are just the latest in a long line of athletes who used their platform to express themselves. Jackie Robinson played a key role in ending segregation by breaking the color barrier in baseball, the most popular and powerful sports league in the late 40s and 50s. That was a political statement. Mohammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were all key voices in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. All of these athletes left a lasting impact on their respective sports and country not only because of their talent but also because they chose to be a part of something bigger than sports.

Trump isn’t the first person to rile up the sporting community, and he certainly won’t be the last, but he has changed things. Trump is going after the employment of both athletes and the people who cover them from the most powerful position in the country.   

His comments aren’t just unprofessional, they may be in violation of federal law. Title 18 of the US Code (18 US Code 227) states that the federal government cannot influence the employment decisions or practices of any private entity solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.

Like it or not, Trump has made himself a part of this overarching story of player protests and it would be irresponsible to not include him or the politics involved in the telling of that story. If the sheer unprofessionalism of the President of the United States calling fellow Americans S.O.B.s wasn’t enough justification to include him in the story then the potential violation of federal law should be. This isn’t just a torch for traditional media to carry alone, sports media should be involved too.

Sports media is just as much about covering topics that go far beyond the game as it is about covering the game. Even if that makes some people uncomfortable, it is the job of any part of the media to keep the public informed and going through an outlet like sports may be the best way to accomplish that.

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