Pro Bull Riders Launches ‘Celebrate America’ as Sporting Patriotism Surges in Trump Era

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By Ken Danieli | 2:13 pm, January 4, 2017

As tiresome snowflakes and vacuous celebrity pedants continue to shed tears over the “Make America Great Again” election, a surge in patriotism promises to further appeal to broad swathes of the population throughout 2017.

The trend toward increased visibility of proud displays of patriotism in the US, including at sports events is continuing in the new year.  Pro Bull Riders (PBR) is launching its 2017 season as a “Celebrate America Tour” and Heat Street can reveal it will feature American-themed activities throughout the year.

The tour kicks off at New York’s Madison Square Garden January 6-8, and will showcase an American hero singing the national anthem.  US Army Sergeant John Hyland was seriously injured serving our country in Iraq, where he lost his leg in 2007.   Hyland, of Charlotte, NC, has served in law enforcement, run Hooters restaurants, and is a professionally trained opera singer.  His background and harrowing tale of heroism in Iraq are detailed in this biographical profile and on Twitter.

High-profile pro athletes, including those who’ve never voted, made headlines and drew intense scrutiny in 2016 when they refused to stand for the national anthem at events and expressed their misgivings about the United States when asked by reporters during locker-room interviews.

Some leagues, like the NFL, allowed this behavior, and many believe that fan rejection of these displays contributed to a decline in the league’s TV ratings this season. (Conversely, the PBR, which saw viewership on CBS increase 12% in 2016, was the only sport whose athletes voluntarily drafted and signed a pledge to always stand during the performance of the national anthem at its events.)

CBS is reporting that its sitcom Big Bang Theory has replaced NBC’s Sunday Night Football as the #1 program on TV.  There’s no word yet on who’ll perform the anthem at Super Bowl LI, on February 7 in Houston as the NFL ponders how to revive its tarnished All-American image.

PBR’s very public embrace of the American values that its cowboys exemplify has been met with enthusiastic support from fans, with its most patriotic social media posts rapidly going viral.  In a similar vein, candidate Donald Trump’s all-American campaign gear was a big hit with voters and is now considered to have been one of the keys to his victory that media elites underestimated.

After all a recent Forbes profile of (Ivanka Trump’s husband) Jared Kushner’s role in the successful campaign revealed that Mr. Trump’s unabashedly patriotic “Make America Great Again” merchandise was selling at an astounding rate of $80,000 a day.  Heat Street covered the “campaign swag battle of 2016” during the build-up to the election, noting the stark differences between the Trump and Clinton campaigns’ merchandising strategies.

Post-election, many pundits (who were wrong about nearly everything in 2016) are only now citing Trump’s highly patriotic merchandise as a very smart strategy that helped him win the presidency.

Since the election, Trump’s campaign merchandise variety has grown, and his online store is even selling some new items at higher price points, while Hillary staged a sad going-out-of-business sale.

We can expect a sea of red ball caps at the inauguration on January 20th if the dishonest media ever turns its cameras toward the crowd on the National Mall.

In 2017 expect this increased focus on American patriotism to continue surging among political, sports, and business players.

Will the mainstream media catch on to the trend?

Ken Danieli is a brand strategist and writer