Where Sports Celebrity Meets Politics: Brady and Trump

Brady and Trump appear to be an unlikely pairing. Yes, Mr. Trump has demonstrated an interest in professional football. But, from his headquarters in New York City, one might think that Mr. Trump would have closer ties to a New York Giants or New York Jets’ player.

The coming together of sports and politics has always had major impact on history. Sports diplomacy involves the use of sports to influence politics, society and diplomatic relations. One of the best things about sports diplomacy is that it can transcend cultural differences and bring a nation together – at least majority of the citizens. Did the Tom Brady-Donald Trump connection have such an influence over the business tycoon’s victory in the U.S. presidential election? To some, there may be some indications, but Brady seemed to be careful in not being too outspoken – which is the Belichick-led Patriots’ way. How did Brady’s support of Donald Trump come about?

Tom Brady and Donald Trump

In the words of Brady, their relationship goes back a long time ago. It didn’t just prop up when Donald Trump thought of “Making America Great Again.” In the Patriots’ quarterback’s words, he met ‘The Donald’ almost 16 years ago and the two have played lots of golf together.

Brady and Trump have had been friends for a long time, and Brady noted the new POTUS always supported his team. Trump used to be on the Patriots’ sidelines many times and would call the star player after the games.


Brady and Trump: Brady’s “Support”

When Tom Brady appeared to support Donald Trump for the U.S. presidential race, it was not something that a star sportsman had done for the first time. Sports and politics have come together in the past many times. In fact, many athletes ran for the president’s post and some even made it to the most powerful position in the world.

So when one of the most decorated quarterbacks of the NFL supported the outspoken billionaire-turned-politician, why did it rake up a controversy? While Trump was a world-famous figure in his own niche (before he became even more famous by becoming the POTUS), Brady is a legend in his own field. In the 15 seasons he played as a starter, his team has made it 7 times to the Super Bowl, the most of any QB ever. So when the two masters of their fields appeared to be in the same camp, it did mean something big.

Tom Brady’s support of Donald Trump came in a unique way when the “Make America Great Again” hat was spotted in his locker. When the media asked him about it, he responded that it would be great if his friend won. He went on to say that he hoped his friend will win and that could allow him to play golf with him in the White House lawn itself.

Brady Walking Out On Press Conference

The media frequently has the habit of cornering folks into tight corners. That is exactly the situation Brady was put into when he was asked during a press conference about Trump’s “locker room banter.” Instead of getting into a confrontational mode with the journalist, Brady thought it best to avoid the question and walked out. He left the place with a “Thank you” and a smiling face – a sign of a mature and smart sportsman who knows where to draw the line, and how to draw it.

Athletes in American Politics

There have been many athletes in history who have run for president and some of them even succeeded. It has even been shown that the results of major sports events can also have an influence on the presidential results. In fact, there are studies that have shown that whenever the home team won a game before the election, it helped increase the incumbent candidates vote share by a small percentage. However, that wasn’t the case with the election for the 45th president of the United States. There was no incumbent candidate. The results of some games were expected to influence the 2012 U.S. presidential election though.

Whichever way sports events have influenced presidential elections in the past, there has been a close relation between sports and politics. Bill Bradley was a basketball player before he was elected as a senator from New Jersey. He also ran for president for the Democratic Party in 2000. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a linebacker and running back at university. He went on to become the President of the United States in 1953.

Former president Gerald Ford was a linebacker and center at university. He led his team to win the 1932 and 1933 national titles. He became the president in 1974 after president Nixon resigned from the position after the famous scandal. Jack Kemp, the 1996 presidential candidate was also a Football player. He played 13 AFL seasons as a quarterback, winning the championships in 1964 and 1965.

There have been many other athletes who have played a role in politics in the United States. More recently in 2010, five former athletes ran for various political offices. In the 2010 U.S. Elections, Chris Dudley, the former player for Portland Trail Blazers ran for the position of Governor of Oregon. At the same time he also played a role in persuading Jon Runyan (former Philadelphia Eagles player) to run for the third congressional district in New Jersey. Runyan won the election.

Shawn Bradley, former player with the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks was also a candidate in Utah state’s legislature in 2010. There are many other examples of athletes running for a political office. Clint Didier, the former Washington Redskins player, ran for the Senate in Washington. Keith Fimian, the former Cleveland Browns player, ran for a House seat from Virginia.

Past Presidents Relationships With Athletes

Many of the former presidents have been close to athletes. Most presidents had close relationships with several athletes through their presidential careers. One such recent example is the Obama-Tiger Woods bonhomie.

In 2013, Obama flew to Chicago to deliver a speech. After the speech he flew to Palm Beach to meet Tiger Woods on the links. The two spent a lot of time together and Obama claims to have taken lessons from the golf legend, Butch Harmon. Obama’s friendship with Woods is a natural as he’s a big golfer, in addition to being a basketball fan. Obama played more than 300 rounds through his terms as the president. Every time he took a much-needed break, he would almost always hit the links.

Obama’s detour during his Chicago visit, to meet Woods, also stirred up some controversy. The trip was said to cost taxpayers a staggering $3.6 million.

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Tradition Of Inviting Sports Champions To White House

Sports has been so important to U.S. politics that there has been a tradition of inviting sports teams to the White House for a long time. The tradition began in 1865 with President Andrew Johnson. The first teams to visit were the Washington Nationals and Brooklyn Atlantics. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the guests at the White House. Since then it has become a ‘ritual’ for presidents to invite teams his executive residence. The Washington Senators were the first World Series champions to be welcomed by the president. The 1924 World Series champions visited the White House in 1925.

The first time any NBA champions were invited was in 1963. John F. Kennedy welcomed the Boston Celtics to his executive residence. The Indiana University team was the first NCAA champs to be invited at the White House. Gerald Ford was the president who welcomed the varsity men’s basketball team in 1976.

There has been another tradition of the strong relation between sports and the highest political office in the U.S. The president would also call champions by phone to congratulate them on their achievement. This tradition has also been retained for several decades. The U.S. presidents take to the phone to athletes to congratulate them for their major achievements.

Was Brady Right in Supporting Trump?

Sports and politics have always had a positive relationship between each other in the United States. Both have inspired and encouraged each other. Athletes were always seen as big achievers in life and have always been seen as better prospects for political offices. At the same time, athletes endorsing and supporting their favorite candidates has also been seen as their freedom of choice as a citizen. Despite the controversies being raked up by the media around Brady’s veiled support for Donald Trump, it is clearly his right to do so as a citizen.

At the same time, a star athlete must realize his support might have a significant influence on the community as a whole. His perceptions of a candidate and his support can affect his fans. There is also the chance that a sports celebrity’s perceptions of a candidate may change with time.

When athletes support any politician, they need to keep in mind that a politician can move quickly in and out of favor with the general population. The recent Immigration Executive Order has already put the Trump administration in the crosshairs of many sports figures. Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich have already spoken out strongly against the immigration ban. Will Tom Brady still feel as strongly about his support of Donald Trump in 4 years, 4 months, or even 4 weeks?