Why does the emperor turn the circus against him? In conventional narratives of authoritarianism, sports are a tool of reinforcing uncritical patriotism and keeping entertainment wedded to the heights of performative nationalism. Yet Donald Trump, a man seen as representing the ruddy faces of America’s red state white male fathers, who all tune in to sports to avoid politics, has made the players of the sport a symbol of counterculture. Colin Kaepernick, now dozens of others, have made kneeling for the national anthem a symbol of the players against the masters, the black men asked to blow apart their bodies on the field instead turning toward the flag and rejecting its false promises. How did we get here?