ATLANTA — The stage was set.
If there was ever going to be a second during which politics and sports activities had been going to fulfill in a head-on collision, this was it.
Donald Trump had walked out on the sector Monday evening on the School Soccer Playoffs Nationwide Championship Recreation flanked by navy officers, with a giant smile on his face.
He was going to face with the troops because the nationwide anthem performed.
And in a sport that was being performed within the Black Mecca, during which the overwhelming majority of the gamers on each groups had been black, all of us waited to see if any participant would take a knee.
As a result of, in the event that they had been going to do it, this was the right setting.
Earlier within the day, The New Yorker launched its newest cowl that includes a cartoon drawing of Seattle Seahawks defensive finish Michael Bennett and Dr. Martin Luther King locked in arms whereas kneeling subsequent to Colin Kaepernick.
And with Trump standing at midfield, it felt just like the president was daring gamers to defy him.
However, nothing occurred.
As a result of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs weren’t even on the sector throughout the nationwide anthem.
Nonetheless, that didn’t cease Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough from expressing his proper to free speech. Because the Crimson Tide walked down the tunnel headed to the sector, whereas Trump struggled and mumbled his method by way of the nationwide anthem, the Alabama working again was caught on video shouting “F–k Trump!”
It was the identical phrase that had been projected on the aspect of the stadium, as small teams of protestors gathered in several areas across the venue informing the president of what they consider him.
Coming off a yr during which sports activities and politics had been joined on the hip, the primary massive sporting occasion of 2018 was set as much as proceed the development.
Donald Trump + a lot of black soccer gamers + two groups representing the center of Trump’s base + Kendrick Lamar, who repeatedly raps about social injustices, racism, and his disdain for Trump, acting at halftime = drama.
However after the anthem, Trump was an afterthought.
And Lamar targeted his power on the 20,000 individuals who withstood freezing temperatures to see him carry out.
Coming in, it appeared like this evening was going to be remembered for what occurred off the sector, however as a substitute, it wound up being in regards to the gamers on it.
What began out as a nap fest, wound up being probably the greatest championship video games in current historical past. The 77,430 followers that packed Mercedes Benz Stadium had been all carrying some hue of purple, however by the tip, it was straightforward to inform whose workforce received, and whose workforce misplaced.
Tua Tagovailoa grew to become a family identify, because the freshman quarterback’s second-half efficiency was the sparkplug that the Alabama offense wanted. Earlier than Tagovailoa entered the sport after halftime, the Crimson Tide hadn’t scored some extent and had solely gained 94 yards of complete offense. After giving up a 16-yard sack in time beyond regulation, the freshman recovered on the subsequent play by throwing a 41-yard game-winning landing move to seal the victory. Alabama followers’ feelings actually went from sorrow to surreal in a matter of seconds.
Nick Saban as soon as once more confirmed why he’s the perfect coach the sport of faculty soccer has ever seen.
Like, who sits their starter for a real freshman in a nationwide championship sport, and it really works?
Nick Saban, that’s who.
At this level, Alabama followers could begin petitioning for Saban to get a statue in Atlanta, as he now improves to 13-1 throughout the metropolis’s limits. Saban’s win over former defensive coordinator Kirby Sensible signifies that he stays undefeated in opposition to his former sideline cohorts.
For Georgia, this one goes to harm.
Monday evening was imagined to be a celebration for a college that’s been ready since 1980 to say one other nationwide soccer championship. However for Georgia followers, you possibly can’t assist however suppose that Monday evening will function one other hurtful reminder from the heartache many followers suffered simply 11 months in the past.
The Atlanta Falcons had been main 28-Three within the third quarter of Tremendous Bowl LI earlier than the New England Patriots stormed again to defeat them.
And on Monday, UGA was up 20-7 within the third quarter earlier than the Tide began to roll.
Monday evening was filled with drama, however not the type that was anticipated. In a bizarre method, it could have been what the nation wanted.
Sports activities “trumped” politics.
The way in which it all the time ought to.