Donald Trump has unceremoniously dragged Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt into the biggest sport story in America right now.
On Wednesday Trump (the President of the United States of America in case you’ve just landed on earth for the first time) tweeted a video of Bolt from five years ago with the caption:
“Even Usain Bolt from Jamaica, one of the greatest runners and athletes of all time, showed RESPECT for our National Anthem!”
At the time of writing Usain Bolt is yet to comment.
But the context is important.
For those of you who don’t know the details by now, here is a brief summary:
American Football quarterback Colin Kaepernick first opted not to stand for the national anthem in 2016 as a peaceful protest against police brutality and institutionalised racism.
Kaepernick’s protest soon became a major talking point, framed against the political context of the Black Lives Matter movement in America, with a handful of other players supporting the 29-year-old.
Kaepernick (whose protest began before Donald Trump took office) continued to kneel for the national anthem throughout the season, but the story began to fade – with NFL teams’ refusal to offer the talented quarterback a new contract for the 2017/18 season being a scandal that threatened to fly under the radar.
That was until President Trump addressed a rally in Alabama last week.
Fresh from criticising NBA star Steph Curry for turning down an invitation to visit the White House, Trump turned on NFL players who take a knee for the anthem, saying:
“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. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Those comments sparked outrage and an enormous debate in America about the protest, with Kaepernick’s initial point about police brutality and racism almost becoming lost in a largely unrelated conversation about ‘respect for the flag’.
Large swathes of the NFL have united against Trump, with athletes across a number of sports speaking out against his divisive comments.
But track and field had largely been untouched by the whole sorry mess…
This story shows no sign of going away.
But, amid the bluster, Kaepernick’s original point remains the most pertinent.