We Love Our Sports, Don’t We Folks?

By Nathan Tucker
nrtucker@lc.edu

St. Louis Cardinals catcher, Yadier Molina, celebrates during the 2006 NLCS game between the Mets and Cardinals at Shea Stadium. Trump can be seen looming in the background.

As the world at large is reeling from constantly growing numbers of sick and dead from COVID-19, Donald Trump has prioritized the important things.

“We have to get our sports back,” Trump said during his Tuesday, April 14 afternoon press briefing. “I’m tired of watching baseball games that are fourteen years old.”

Trump is a big sports fan. He was a fixture at games across New York for years. Cardinals fans might remember him looking on in the background of Yadier Molina celebrating winning the 2006 NLCS over the New York Mets.

Coincidentally, that was fourteen years ago, so maybe he’s just getting tired of watching the Mets lose over and over.

In this vein, the White House has put together a crack team of business leaders, with the goal of “reopening the country”. Headlining this who’s who of companies that undoubtedly care about humanity’s well being more than their bottom line are the commissioners of the major American sports leagues.

Noted health luminaries like UFC’s Dana White and WWE’s Vince McMahon will now be part of a panel tasked with balancing the whole “keeping humans alive” thing with the apparently necessary task of getting live professional wrestling and cage fighting on our televisions for something new to watch.

The formation of this panel of ghouls and goblin people hell-bent on making money at the risk of human lives comes hot on the heels of Florida governor Ron DeSantis declaring that professional wrestling and sports are “essential businesses”, which has been seen as a favor to WWE owner Vince McMahon.

McMahon and others within WWE apparently reached out to DeSantis’s office for “some conversation”, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, speaking with ABC News.

“With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business,” Demings said to ABC News. “And so, therefore, they were allowed to remain open.”

DeSantis and the McMahon family have something in common: close ties to Donald Trump. WWE even went as far as inducting Donald Trump into its Hall of Fame in 2013.

Linda McMahon, Vince’s wife, was appointed by the White House to lead the Small Business Administration, with her record in WWE cited as rationale.

That notoriously small business: World Wrestling Entertainment, the only billion-dollar pro wrestling company on the planet.

Since leaving her role in the White House, Linda McMahon is now chairwoman of America First Action, the only sanctioned pro-Trump super PAC.

On April 9, McMahon’s pro-Trump super PAC spent more than $25 million on buying ads in Florida and North Carolina, set to run in the fall. Both states are considered “battleground states”, crucial for a party wanting to win the presidential election.

With that knowledge in hand, the decision by DeSantis’s office to deem pro wrestling and sports as essential businesses comes at an awfully coincidental time, doesn’t it?

WWE plans to run full-length live shows starting this week, and other leagues are now eyeing Florida as they attempt to start/restart/resume their seasons.

Lost in this is the news that a WWE commentary team member tested positive for coronavirus, and has been at the WWE Performance Center outside Orlando for taping, just as the company plans on bringing more talent to Florida to film live shows.

We are in an unprecedented time period as we’re all well aware of at this point. What’s more unprecedented is the lack of care for human life on display as long as it lines the pockets of those who “provide entertainment”.

Surely this will all work out.

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