The 2016 Presidential Campaign divided many communities and the sports world was no exception. When it became apparent that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady were supporters of Donald Trump, lifelong fans were in a quandary. As any ardent sports fan, their abiding love for their team is the result of the its history and complexity, but the Patriot’s connection with Trump was the deal-breaker. Many turned their backs on the team, burned Patriots-branded items, went public with the heartbreak, and never looked back.
Journalist Charlotte Wilder from SBNation.com visited the town of Lincoln, Massachusetts during the holidays and interviewed a few locals to explore this phenomena. One woman explained her stance, which has resonated with many other disappointed Patriots fans, “I really enjoy watching the game with my family. I like what it means for my family to sit down and talk and laugh and watch and snack and now … I just, it’s just ruined for me. It’s not the worst thing about this, of course — this whole thing stems from my tremendous disappointment over this election and country. But it will forever color my opinion of the team. I will not watch, I will not buy any more jerseys. I’m done.”
Other fans couldn’t let go as easily. Comedian Josh Gondelman, found a productive and positive way to reconcile his love for the Patriots and need to protest Trump
“I’d like to be able to cheer for the team I grew up loving without cheerleading the Trump administration,” the comedian wrote in a tweet Thursday evening. “…I thought that maybe people who feel ambivalent could donate to a good cause for every Pats FG or TD,” he further tweeted.
And that’s how the hashtag #AGoodGame emerged to fulfill the very specific need to engage a community of conflicted Patriots fans behind something they could whole-heartedly support: giving. Thousands of dollars were pledged to service organization like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Center for American Islamic Relations and others for every touchdown or individual point the patriots scored. Even those rooting for the opposing team participated.
Search for the hashtag now and you will see screen captures for receipts and totals for the donations made. We don’t exactly know how much money was given, Metro Boston reports that $20,000 was given in the first hour. Those who could not give, pledged volunteer hours.
The day after the game, Josh reflected on the significance of this social media movement, “people stuck with their team and their principle for what turned out to be both #AGoodGame and a legitimately good game.”