Donald Trump Fights With Marshawn Lynch, LaVar Ball, Refusing to Stick to Politics

trump lavar ball marshawn lynch photo
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on November 15 in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. Trump seemingly can't help but insert himself in the sporting world, most recently feuding with Marshawn Lynch and LaVar Ball. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump leaned into yet another sports world fight Monday morning, calling out Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch after the running back opted to sit during the national anthem before his NFL game over the weekend.

"Marshawn Lynch of the NFL's Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down," Trump tweeted.

The Raiders and New England Patriots played in Mexico City on Sunday, and, as ESPN noted, Lynch stood for the first bars of the United States national anthem but eventually sat down. It's something he has done all season as part of the widespread protests against the oppression of African Americans in the U.S. Lynch then stood for the Mexican national anthem.

Marshawn Lynch sits during the US national anthem, stands for Mexican anyhem

— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 19, 2017

Trump has continually railed against the NFL, which, as the president noted, has experienced declining ratings. But it remains a behemoth in the sporting world even as it deals with a concussion crisis and internal ownership battles that amount to a civil war. Trump has also spent a fair bit of time critiquing Colin Kaepernick, who launched the national anthem protests while playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Now he has chosen to go after a popular figure in Lynch, who has done extensive charity work focused on helping children in his hometown of Oakland.

As a reminder, Trump's beef with the NFL isn't new. His fight with the league dates back to his USFL days in the 1980s.

I talked to @jeffpearlman about Trump's USFL days and learned a lot about his beef with the NFL:

— Tim Marcin (@TimMarcin) September 26, 2017

But the Commander in Chief is never one to settle on a single-front war. Trump has also spent the last few days attacking LaVar Ball and others after the president supposedly worked to get three UCLA basketball players—including Ball's son LiAngelo—released from a Chinese prison. The players were arrested in Hangzhou, China, and accused of shoplifting. Trump wondered if they would thank him, and all three subsequently did in a press conference. But the elder Ball famously loves to peacock and troll, and so his response to a question about Trump's claim to have helped in the matter served to stir controversy.

"Who?" Ball said to ESPN about the president. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

Predictably, Ball's comments got Trump's attention. And the president took a break from calling Hillary Clinton names to go after Ball and his son:

Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017

Lots of sports fans have taken objection to athletes speaking out. Some, like Trump, even attribute the NFL ratings decline to anger over the protests, which might have a kernel of truth but is for the most part an oversimplification. These folks want players to stick to sports. But if the president can't stick to politics, why should anybody else stay in their supposed lanes?

Politics are sports and sports are politics. And the fighting may just be beginning: LaVar Ball is scheduled to be interviewed on CNN Monday night.