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Like hiring a team of arsonists to fight forest fires, Donald Trump is installing a cabinet of people who want to destroy the very agencies they’re being tapped to lead. The proposed Environmental Protection Agency chief does not think climate change is real. The proposed Education Secretary wants to eradicate public education. The proposed head of the Department of Labor is a fast-food magnate bent on crushing the scant labor protections we have. And this is just a sampling. It is manifestly clear that the Swamp Things are now in charge of the swamp.
These appointments make me wonder: What if Trump also had the power to appoint our sports commissioners? How would that look?
Trump appoints Vince McMahon, the chairman and CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment, as NFL Commissioner. McMahon’s first move is to fire any player who has protested during the National Anthem. His second is to proclaim “the era of political correctness in the NFL is over” and invites Redskins owner Dan Snyder to rename several team mascots after a variety of diverse racial slurs.
McMahon goes on to disband an outraged NFL Players Association, reclassifying the players as “individual contractors.” He then ends all concussion protocols, dismissing brain-injury research as “junk science.” He also eliminates the position of “team doctor,” saying, “Free health care in football represent the wussification of this man’s game. We’re going to Make Football Masculine Again!”
In the 2018 season, numerous players die on the field of traumatic brain injury, just as they did at the dawn of football a century earlier. It is later discovered that Commissioner McMahon had taken out life insurance policies on the dead players. The football league quickly goes out of business.
The new NBA boss announces that the league needs “red state appeal.” He proclaims that the players are too “thuggish” and have “too much of that rap music between their ears.” All players with tattoos and corn rows are banned from the game. Inked heroes like LeBron James and Kevin Durant shock fans, bidding the game goodbye.
After James calls the new rules racially discriminatory, the new commish says, “There’s nothing racist about it. That’s absurd. White players with tattoos and corn rows are also banned.” The commissioner then bans the 24-second shot clock, calling it “discriminatory,” saying, “How many George Mikans of tomorrow have been kept out of the league because of this perversion of Dr. Naismith’s game?” He also re-institutes the hand-checking rule and a dictate requiring three passes before any shot. The league quickly goes out of business. The new commissioner, if you haven’t guessed, is Phil Jackson.
In Major League Baseball, new Commissioner Joe Arpaio closes the players union office at gunpoint. Then he says, “It's time to make baseball American again.” Even though it’s pointed out to him that people in the Caribbean have played baseball since the 1860s, all Latino players are swaddled in pink, chained, and deported. This includes players from Puerto Rico and Latino players born in the United States. Arpaio justifies this by saying, “Better safe than sorry.”
Angels owner Art Moreno is also deported to Mexico, even though his family has lived here for four generations. Arpaio ends the annual April celebration of Jackie Robinson Day, citing Robinson’s statement that “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.” He then unretires Robinson’s number 42, claiming it is “reverse racism against all players who dreamed of being whatever number he was.” When black players protest and threaten to boycott games, Arpaio says, “Why don't you just start your own league? There's precedent!” Without players like Andrew McCutchen, Manny Machado, and Jose Altuve, Major League Baseball, after 150 years, is closed for business.
Donald Trump appoints himself the “executive producer” of all women's sports. The WNBA, National Women’s Soccer League, and Women’s World Cup soccer team are immediately disbanded. Professional basketball and soccer are ended and Roller Derby—which according to White House sources frightens and confuses Trump—becomes formally criminalized, at every amateur and professional level.
Trump says he will be “making women’s sports matter again” by giving a $10 billion grant to The Lingerie Football League and implementing compulsory classes in Foxy Boxing. After he destroys Title IX, women start playing sports in underground venues and old abandoned speakeasies refashioned as Derby rinks.
This sports institution is left alone, although its new multi-billion dollar, government-funded track in the middle of what used to be Central Park is quickly shuttered. It’s now headquarters for the Resistance . . . and more Derby.
Dave Zirin is the host of the popular Edge of Sports podcast and the sports editor of The Nation. His latest book is Brazil's Dance with the Devil.