The extent to which politics invades every corner of American life these days can be seen best this week in Houston, where the New England Patriots are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons.
Or, as might better be described The Trumps vs. the Non-Trumps.
“No sports team has been more closely associated with a new president, or perhaps any president, at least since Richard Nixon very publicly adopted the Washington Redskins as his own and even called occasional plays for Coach George Allen,” the New York Times’ Mark Leibovich says today.
The team represents a kind of sporting ideal of Trump’s promise to make “America win so much, you’ll be bored of winning.” New England, which will appear in an N.F.L.-record ninth Super Bowl on Sunday, is a team that wins so much that a lot of America has become, yes, bored of its winning. And no small number of fans are convinced that the Patriots (like Trump) achieve their victories through dubious means and wish they would just go away and get off their TVs forever.
The three main architects of the team’s success — Kraft, Belichick and Brady — have taken pains to emphasize that their allegiance to Trump is based on friendship and loyalty, nothing more. They play golf and attend weddings and call to congratulate one another on elections and Super Bowl wins, those kinds of everyday things.
They are quick to assert their bipartisan or apolitical bona fides. Kraft has been a supporter of many Democrats and Democratic causes over the years; Belichick declared himself apolitical in response to queries last fall after Trump at a campaign rally in New Hampshire read aloud from an effusive note of congratulations that Belichick had sent him.
At a media day this week, a generous helping of questions were about politics, the Times says. Several players who are Muslims didn’t take the bait that was offered.
Meanwhile, even the Super Bowl ads are viewed through a political lens.
Budweiser is insisting this ad has nothing to do with politics.
The Patriots are three-point favorites to win the game on Sunday, as if anyone in the country still cares about football.