There was no hiding.
Donald Trump’s stunning election win this week took everyone by storm to defy conventional wisdom. It created fear, anger, confusion and delight in some quarters.
Americans exercised their constitutional right to vote and what would follow would be a solum reflection on national identity and how people should treat each other in civil society.
Make no mistake, this run to the White House has tested that theory to the nth degree.
Those that opted for the Republican leader could take gratification in their candidate contradicting all the polls, pundits and media organisations death-riding his bid from the outset, believing it was nothing more than a stunt.
On the other hand, many Clinton supporters experienced a sadness exacerbated by the realisation that bigots now feel empowered to have a platform.
Regardless of the emotions that spilled over from the evening, people from the left, right and middle of the political spectrum agree that the process has been the most toxic and emotionally sapping of battles in modern times.
There is relief of the conclusion but concern and doubt of what is over the horizon.
These events inevitably crossed over to the sporting arena, with NBA and NFL pre and post game coverage failing to avoid the elephant in the room – this was big news.
When the topic came to the point of discussion, ESPN analyst and former Indiana Pacer Jalen Rose argued that professionals in basketball will decline the opportunity to visit President Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
His statement came on the day the President Elect visited the sitting Commander in Chief, creating an awkward if not desperately needed image of the two parties coming together in a moment of reconciliation, even if it as much symbolic as anything.
On a busy day for Barack Obama, he welcomed the championship winning Cleveland Cavaliers to the White House where he was presented with his own jersey and praised the team for stopping the Golden State Warriors from overtaking his beloved Chicago Bulls’ single season record.
It was a joyous moment, seeing the outgoing President and the drought breaking Cinderella story from Ohio soaking it in together, but Rose’s comments did reverberate. What an image it would be for future NBA champions to refuse the tradition – it will speak volumes.
For those that would cry in outrage at such a stance, Rose did point to a certain Tom Brady who knocked back the opportunity to meet President Obama after the Patriots last won the Super Bowl, citing a “scheduling conflict” that didn’t really add up.
Trump along the trail did cite Tom Brady as a friend and supporter, although the 39-year old quarterback kept his council in public about any such affiliation. It was an issue that refused to go away as The Washington Post reported that the QB and head coach Bill Belichick fronted the media on the topic of their individual relationship with the incoming POTUS.
Taking to the Patriots podium where he was pressed as to his leanings, reaction and opinion on Donald Trump, Brady said that his model wife Gisele Bündchen advised him to refuse any response and duck away from it altogether.
“Talk to my wife,” instructed the veteran footballer. “She said I can’t talk about politics anymore. I think that’s a good decision made for our family.”
Belichick though was far more open and transparent about his friendship with Trump, but explained that he had not endorsed his candidacy or backed his views on the country.
“I’ve received a number of inquiries relative to a note that I wrote to Donald on Monday,” informed the coach. “Our friendship goes back many years and I think anybody that’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. The comments are not politically motivated, I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald.
“(A) couple of weeks ago, we had Secretary of State (John) Kerry in our locker room. That’s another friend of mine… I write hundreds of letters and notes every month. (It) doesn’t mean I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about politics, religion or other subjects… It’s not about politics, it’s about football.”
Contrast this with LeBron James, a man who was visibly overjoyed to go to Washington to see the Obama’s while he still could. Having been on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton in his home state, the Cavs and NBA icon made it personal because for him and people of colour, it is.
Issues of mass deportation, stop and frisk, tax cuts for corporations, reverse of health care reforms and championing a man who was endorsed by the KKK – this goes beyond a single four-year cycle.
Both LeBron and Brady understand this, hence the vocal endorsement from the NBA star and the reluctant silence of the NFL icon.
It does offer an insight into the reactions and culture from two sporting behemoths in American society – with the biggest name and face in basketball openly and honestly expressing his views while a parallel figure for football closed the door, frightened to engage.
As Stephen A Smith said on ESPN’s First Take program, the contrast from the two men was striking, but in a free, open and democratic society neither were wrong.
They will get back to the job of winning titles and as fans, we can get back to the beautiful escapism that only sport can provide.