2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture
avatar for Kyle Kusz

Kyle Kusz

University of Rhode Island
Notes on the NFL, Tom Brady, and Trump’s brand of white nationalism

In this paper, I explore how President Trump uses the NFL to express and normalize his brand of white nationalism with its emphasis on containing and disciplining black citizenship and re-naturalizing white male prerogative as the governing logic of citizenship in post-Obama America. Drawing on studies of the alt-right, I explain how this latest wave of alt-right/Trump nationalism is, at least in part, inspired and informed by far right nationalist ideas and tactics drawn from Europe. While sport stadia and sport star icons have long been used both as vehicles for fascist ideologies and sites for resistance to authoritarian politics, especially abroad, I detail the ways in which Trump is using the NFL as such a space in contemporary America. More specifically, I focus on critically examining cultural (and self-) representations of Tom Brady to argue that he figures not only as the anti-thesis of Trump’s most reviled NFL dissident, Colin Kaepernick, but as the embodiment of The Donald’s ideal American citizen—a neoliberal, postracial, masculinist, white nationalist ‘winner’ (Maskovsky, 2017). When read in this way, what becomes apparent is the key role that sport spaces, imagery, iconography, and narratives play in the US’ latest wave of renewing white supremacy.