Lessons from Trump


I should have kept a basketball diary. A journal recording every basketball game I’ve ever attended as the mother of four, as the wife of one, a basketball coach.

When my younguns were wee lads it fell to me to get hair combed, socks on, shoes tied, binkies and snacks in the bag, everyone strapped in now? I would haul our brood from game to game, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.

I should be able to coach my own team by now, if only I’d paid better attention to the details. I was always more than a little preoccupied.

I never watched much basketball growing up a stone’s throw away from Auburn University and the University of Georgia. Ours was definitely a football town. I spent countless hours hanging at Mama Burke’s house with the Burke boys watching Alabama or Georgia play. During half-time, Jimmy and Jerry would shoot hoops out back. I saw some church league games of basketball, but I don’t think I ever went to a high school basketball game during my four years at Columbus High.

But you can’t go to Oregon State University and remain a football fan. You must learn to love basketball. It wasn’t all that difficult given one of my best friends, Janice, was dating one of OSU’s finest basketball players, Steve Johnson, and that all of this was happening during Ralph Miller’s reign.

Conversion was inevitable.

But not once during the hundreds and hundreds of basketball games I’ve attended over the years have I ever witnessed the sort of thing that reportedly took place in Indiana over the weekend.

Two private Catholic school rivals – Andrean High and Bishop Noll Institute – were battling it out on the court Friday night. Bishop Noll is largely Latino, Andrean mostly other than.

At some point during the heat of the game, emotions flared and a contingent of Andrean High students borrowed a page from the inflammatory rhetoric of America’s most profane presidential candidate – Donald Trump.

“Build a wall! Build a wall!” they chanted, while holding up a blimp-sized photo of the GOP’s racist leader, along with a sign stating “ESPN DEPORTES.”

“You’re racists!” Bishop Noll students countered back in chants of their own.

This from schools whose missions are modeled after the teachings of Christ.

My heart aches from the weight of all the wrongdoing that this particular GOP candidate perpetrates, gleefully, it would seem. Don’t even get me started on Trump’s threats against the First Amendment.

I’ve been to some intense basketball games over the years. I’ve witnessed some not so sportsmanlike conduct. But I have never been at a game where students took to hurling racial slurs at one another and I grew up in Georgia, mind you.

I am not coming at this as somebody keen on seeing Hillary elected, so don’t dismiss my concerns as just another liberal rant.

I am deeply troubled by Trump. Rhetoric is a dangerous tool in the mouth of a charismatic bigoted leader. I was more than elated to see Max Lucado step out and speak up about Trump’s lack of decency:

I don’t know Mr. Trump. But I’ve been chagrined at his antics. He ridiculed a war hero. He made mockery of a reporter’s menstrual cycle. He made fun of a disabled reporter. He referred to the former first lady, Barbara Bush as “mommy,” and belittled Jeb Bush for bringing her on the campaign trail. He routinely calls people “stupid,” “loser,” and “dummy.” These were not off-line, backstage, overheard, not-to-be-repeated comments. They were publicly and intentionally tweeted, recorded, and presented.

Such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election. But for the Oval Office? And to do so while brandishing a Bible and boasting of his Christian faith? I’m bewildered, both by his behavior and the public’s support of it.


All is not fair in competitions, be it a basketball tournament or a presidential election.

I understand that some find Trump appealing because he reportedly can’t be “bought.” That’s a delusion, I’m sure, but one that many are willing to buy into.

A coworker said to me that he supports Trump because the man says what he thinks and he admires him for that. Should we admire people for saying what they think when what they think is hateful, racist, and just downright belittling of others? 

Trump is not a leader. He’s a bully.

There’s a big difference between the two.

Had Trump played basketball, he might have learned the difference.

I pray voters come to recognize that difference sooner rather than later.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Burdy (Mercer University Press). 


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 6 years ago

I'm with you on this, Karen. When I picture Trump as the leader of a country, Nebuchadnezzar comes to mind. Can you see the Donald eating grass? I'm not hopeful of a "wakeup" however!


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 6 years ago

I so wish we had other options than the ones before us.



about 6 years ago

If one discounts the general lack of specific content in much of Mr. Trump's speech, he can at times sound somewhat reasonable. But it never seems to last. Disagree with him or challenge him, and he regular comes back with insults and character assassination. Lucado hardly gets to the heart of it. Derogatory labels easily give way to obscenities and profanities. Richard Nixon was noted for that in private meetings, but his public speech was much more dignified and presidential. Mr. Trump seems to have no such self regulation. Apparently, that's part of how he is accustomed to conducting himself in business. Admire Mr. Trump for saying what he thinks? Hardly, when what he seems to think is often outrageous, illegal and impossible.


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 6 years ago

Self-regulation doesn't apply to Trump. He has the money of God and thus, often mistakes himself for the role of God. I'm scared.



about 6 years ago

Karen, I turn 50 this year and I have become my father when it comes to politics. I grew up in a conservative home but my parents always taught me to think on my own. I can remember arguments between my dad and his dad over Watergate and various other political events and it puzzled me how two people I respected so much could be so different on certain issues. But they argued about issues and not race or religion or personal things. It was civil and only about the issues. I have followed politics ever since fifth grade (I know, that sounds pretty sad) when my class was asked to vote for either Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford. Carter won. I always liked the game part of the election and by the game I mean the things that candidates said that killed them in the polls or the things that popped up out of nowhere that changed the race. I enjoyed that as a hobby. I never put bumper stickers on my car or signs in my yard but I have voted in every election since I was 18. This past year the only thing that comes to my mind is my father saying "This is the best we can do?" With the crew that running this time around, I honestly wonder what I will do when election day comes. I do not enjoy the "game" anymore because it's ugly and unsettling to me as a voter. It's openly disgusting and equally sad that the people who are leading in the primary races now are the best we have to offer. There is not one of them I would walk across the street to meet. As disgusted as I am I am more fearful of what my children will have to endure now that a presidential election year is basically just more reality TV. This cycle is pretty disturbing but just think what four years from now will be like. It's very frightening.


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 6 years ago

Justin: I wish more teachers were as insightful as your 5th grade teacher. I don't think it's sad that you have followed with interest elections since Carter won. I think it's terrific. So many of the juniors and seniors I taught weren't the least bit interested in politics or what was going on in the world around them. As several students recently wrote in an essay: I thought we were here to learn Language Arts, not about the world. Sigh. So, yes, I share your concerns. I am deeply, deeply troubled. I hold Media responsible in part for playing to the shallow end of the pool, instead of focusing on issues of depth. But the public, without a doubt, is less educated and more prone to swarm before they think. As Trump himself has said, he could stand in Times Square and shoot an innocent man and the voters would still elect him. They aren't any different that the masses that followed Hitler. At first.


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