If there is one thing Americans will not tolerate for long, it is a poor sport. Both “sportsmanship” and “fair play” are central American ideals, and these fundamental values resonate across sports, politics, and culture. Whether it takes the form of disrespectful behavior directed toward other players or out right cheating, nothing brings down the wrath of Americans like someone habitually violating these very western principles.
Look at any list of the most unpopular players in the NFL or any other sport, and players like Deion Sanders, Randy Moss, Bill Romanowski, and Terrell Owens are invariably at the tops of those lists. Sanders, Moss, and Owens became synonymous with showboating, trash talking, and even turning on their teams and their fans. Romanowski was infamous for escalating conflicts on and off of the field, even spitting in someone’s face and kicking an opponent in the head five times.
Then there’s Tom Brady, who conspired with New England Patriots ball handlers to deflate footballs so they would be easier to catch and hold during the 2014-2015 AFC Championship Game. Not only is he and the Patriots organization reviled by fans across the country, the National Football League came down like an anvil, with a $1,000,000 fine, lost draft picks, and a four game suspension for Tom Brady. Tom fought his suspension in court, ending up before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, who upheld his suspension.
In America, we take sportsmanship seriously, and nowhere more so than in the political arena. The sad truth is that Donald Trump is a caricature of the poor sportsman: trash talking, lying, cheating, and aggressively thin skinned. Donald’s totally unabashed and over the top theatrics are entertainment to his supporters. A majority of Americans, however, despise this kind of “all is fair in love and war” rationale, and Donald’s poll numbers reflect this.
Donald Trump lags behind Hillary Clinton in national polls, well outside the margin of error. More alarming still, he’s lagging behind in swing states and in states where Republicans have traditionally been dominant in. Since the beginning of 2016, Donald’s been ahead in only four polls, all but one from mid-May, right after Bernie Sanders won both early May primaries in Indiana and West Virginia. At the same time, Donald won all three early May GOP Primary contests.
The fact that Trump’s short lived surge over Hillary had more to do with Bernie Sanders than it did with Trump should have the entire Trump team in a cold sweat every night, particularly because there’s nothing they can do about it. Donald, the master of squandering opportunities, inexplicably continued to hurl insults at both Cruz and Kasich, weeks after they had suspended their campaigns. The lights were out, the season was over, everyone had gone home, and yet Donald Trump was still grotesquely undulating in the end zone.
Americans, being who we are, punish poor sportsmanship wherever and whenever we see it, and this is true regardless of the right or the left. Even as morally repugnant as Hillary Clinton is, Donald has done a remarkable job reminding Americans just why we dislike him so much. Americans don’t like trash talking. Donald revels in it. Americans don’t like cheap shots below the belt. Donald can’t aim above a belt buckle. Americans don’t like hitting an opponent when they’re down. Donald Trump wrote the book on it.
At the beginning and end of every game, Americans expect everyone to shake hands, but Donald Trump just can’t help himself. This is why Donald Trump can’t break 40% approval. This is why it is absolutely critical that we find someone else to run this fall. If there is any hope of beating Hillary in November, then it rests in finding someone who hasn’t made a habit of being so thoroughly un-American.
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