On the Scoreboard: The Home Team, the Visitors and Trump thumbnail

On the Scoreboard: The Home Team, the Visitors and Trump

White House memoThe president’s visit to the University of Alabama, in the thick of an impeachment inquiry, was not without the usual controversy over whether he’d be booed or not. President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Some aides and allies saw it as a way for Mr. Trump to elicit a more unequivocal show of support during the inquiry.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York TimesNov. 9, 2019WASHINGTON — When President Trump attended Game 5 of the World Series in the nation’s capital, chants of “lock him up” rang out as booing rose from the depth of Nationals Park. When the president attended an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at Madison Square Garden, supporters and critics spent days fighting over the exact proportion of boos to applause he drew.So when Mr. Trump decided to attend Saturday’s football game between the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University in the more politically friendly territory of Tuscaloosa, Ala., several aides and allies saw it as a way for him to elicit a more unequivocal show of support during a period that has kept the White House in a defensive crouch.In Alabama, the president received exactly that. When he was introduced and shown on the giant screens, the red-clad crowd responded with rousing cheers as a smiling Mr. Trump waved and clapped and drank in the support. There were some boos as well, but the cheers dominated and some fans chanted, “U-S-A, U-S-A!”Mr. Trump could hardly have found a bigger sports spectacle than Saturday’s matchup, an event that all but shut down the city of Tuscaloosa. More than 100,000 fans poured into Bryant-Denny Stadium hours before kickoff. Those who arrived early enjoyed members of the United States Special Operations Command parachute team dropping from the sky to land around the 50-yard line.The president watched from a box near midfield; he was accompanied by the Alabama representatives Robert B. Aderholt and Bradley Byrne, who is challenging Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s former attorney general, for Mr. Sessions’s former Senate seat. A few blocks from the stadium, opponents gathered along with a “baby Trump” balloon. One of the main fraternity houses flew a handmade “Trump 2020” banner. The appearances of presidents at sporting events have long fascinated the public. But with emotions high over impeachment, the president’s recent pastime as a sports enthusiast, and the responses of different audiences, has become a national political preoccupation — a debate that roiled the University of Alabama this week when students were warned against “disruptive” conduct at the game. The university later clarified that students were free to express themselves. And if fans can’t escape the expectation to publicly declare (or suppress) their political views, athletes face even more pressure to confirm or deny them.Amid this tense environment, the president gets to relax. Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s eldest son, said in an interview that his father had brought to the White House a love of sports that traces back to his childhood: “That’s his happy place where he still gets to be the boy fr
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