The NFL Draft is supposed to be a joyous time, when young athletes realize their dreams of joining the National Football League. It feels somewhat different this weekend.
Early this morning, Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to Nick Bosa, a spectacular defensive player from Ohio State University. On April 25, Bosa became the second player selected in the draft, and will now wear a San Francisco 49ers uniform. Quite noticeably, Trump congratulated Bosa while not doing the same for the top overall pick, Kyler Murray, a star quarterback from Oklahoma who is headed to the Arizona Cardinals.
Bosa is white, and has expressed support for Trump in the past. His social media activity has in the past been perceived as racially charged. Murray is black. Media outlets pounced, noting the history and the unequal treatment.
Trump, of course, likely knew they would. Conservative media outlets and pundits now have an opening to bemoan political correctness: What’s wrong with a president congratulating a great player? For Trump, the controversy will no doubt energize parts of his base.
Unfortunately for players and fans, the outrage cycle detracts from the game they love. This weekend should be about envisioning how impressive young players will enhance their new teams. Instead, it feels more like a political battlefield.