According to legend, Roman emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Notwithstanding the fact that violins were only invented 1,500 years after the summer of 64AD, Nero was a keen musician and the idea of him strumming his cithara while those fires raged for six days, burning 70 per cent of the city and leaving half of the population homeless, has lasted nearly 2,000 years. It’s also been given a new lease of life this month with an image of a violin-playing Donald Trump being shared by White House press secretary Dan Scavino. It was captioned “My next piece is called ... Nothing can stop what’s coming”. The US president retweeted it with the comment, “Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me!” It sounded good to his detractors, too. The image was then widely shared on social media where comparisons with Nero came thick and fast. Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me! https://t.co/rQVA4ER0PV — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2020 Others have pointed out that Trump is more likely to hit the fairway than the fiddle – the president has picked up his golf clubs a number of times during the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal Super PAC, has even splashed out on adverts in working class areas of Michigan and Pennsylvania to highlight Trump’s taking to the tees, even after enacting travel restrictions to and from China at the end of January. Golf match? I've won 18 Club Championships including this weekend. @mcuban swings like a little girl with no power or talent. Mark's a loser — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2013 The campaign, reported by the Huffington Post, was based on a Snopes fact check that confirmed the president had played six times at his own Florida course. Trump’s golfing is such a concern that trumpgolfcount.com lists how many times he has visited courses and played a round since taking office. The count is 117 as of now. Trump’s golfing, even when not keeping him from dealing with a crisis, has been the subject of much scrutiny thanks to the book, Commander In Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump . Written by Rick Reilly, and published on April 2, the 257-page book ridicules the president’s claim of winning 18 club tournaments – “Final score on the ‘18 club championships’: Lies 16, Incompletes 2, Confirms 0. Trump’s nose has grown so long he could putt with it” – and his demands on Twitter that Barack Obama should golf with Republicans ironic – Trump has not golfed with a single Democrat since taking office. “I always say golf is like bicycle shorts – it reveals a lot about a man,” Reilly said in an interview with Vox as to his reasons for writing the book. In that same interview Reilly was asked about “what Trump’s cheating says about the unreality he lives in” and pointed out it extends beyond the golf course. Obama should play golf with Republicans & opponents rather than his small group of friends. That way maybe the terrible gridlock would end. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2012 “I mean, he’s always been like this,” Reilly said, “We’ve known this guy in the sports world for 30 years.” He has a point, but it is closer to 40 years. Trump showed his remarkable knack for self-promotion by taking part in the 1992 English League Cup draw with former footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ian St John. He laughed along to a joke comparing the Trump Tower boardroom to that of Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis and revealed to Greaves that he played football in high school. The bizarre clip resurfaced a few years back but it was far from the only strange involvement of the future president in sport. In 1989 and 1990 he put his name to the Tour de Trump, a cycling race intended to bring the thrills of the Tour de France to the US. The first event was preceded by a lawsuit against the pre-existing Tour de Rump race and was met with anti-Trump protesters at a stage finish line. “This time, they were met by jeering protesters holding signs that said ‘Die Yuppie $cum,’ ‘Hungry? Eat the Rich’ and ‘Trump = Anti-Christ’,” Politico wrote of the race in a 2016 article. “Trump went about making it happen in his unique fashion,” the article said. “Only a bicycle race with Trump’s name could link together a Saudi arms dealer, a Dutch brothel and the prince of new age pop piano. But despite its high profile, and even with the real estate nabob’s knack for publicity and pageantry, Trump’s namesake race lasted only two years, the short run largely thanks to his empire’s billions of dollars of debt.” That failure was not even his first in sport, which began with the real estate mogul buying a football team. Trump was 37 in 1983 when he took over the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, a rival to the NFL. The future president made headlines by announcing that he was deep in negotiations to land legendary two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Don Shula from the Miami Dolphins in an interview broadcast at half-time during a Dolphins game. It did not happen. “Shula Passes on Coaching Bid From Trump, USFL” went the headline in the Palm Beach Post , though Trump had a different take – claiming he pulled out because the coach wanted an apartment. “Don is a good man,” Trump said in the article. “An excellent guy, really. He just called me to say he was no longer interested, but I could not have done the deal. I could not have given him an apartment in Trump Tower.” Shula has distanced himself from this over the years, but Dolphins owner Joe Robbie called it out as a publicity stunt. “This confirms my impression that Donald Trump has been engaged more in ballyhoo for his grand entrance to the US Football League than in a serious effort to build his franchise competitively by sound, professional management. Headlines in the sports pages and network television can be mighty heady to Fifth Avenue tycoons.” Trump swapping Saks for sacks went well, at least initially. The team had struggled in their first season going 6-12, but following Trump taking charge they went 14-4 in 1984, before losing to the Philadelphia Stars in the play-offs – a team they had beaten twice in the regular season. The following season was less successful, going 11-7 in what would be their – and the USFL’s – last. The league folded because of Trump, who wanted to move it to the same autumn schedule as the NFL – a move that many say impacts his presidency to this day. At the end of that third season, after voting the schedule change through, the USFL filed an ant-trust lawsuit against the NFL claiming it had built a broadcast monopoly. The Generals owner, convinced he and the USFL would win thereby forcing a merger with the NFL, led the charge. A 42-day trial in Manhattan saw it differently, as did the press. “Rothman characterised Trump as the worst kind of snake who was selling his colleagues down the river so he could effect a merger of a few rich teams,” Richard Hoffer wrote in the Los Angeles Times of the NFL’s lead attorney, Frank Rothman. In conference call with major league sports commissioners on Saturday, President Donald Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, sources familiar with the call told @wojespn and me. More on call coming at https://t.co/rDZaVFhcDQ . — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020 Trump was even accused in court of doing this just to get an NFL team, which he denied. “I could have gotten into the NFL a lot easier than going through this exercise,” Trump said. “I could have spent the extra money and bought the Colts on many occasions. “A historic level of eye-rolling filled the courtroom. Trump was lying. He was never a serious candidate to purchase the Colts. Never,” wrote author Jeff Pearlman in Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. The USFL won the case but walked away with only US$3 – a US$1 fine that was tripled as it was an antitrust lawsuit. Even though the NFL had to stump up US$5.5 million in legal fees, that did not keep the USFL afloat. There are parallels with the fate of the USFL and the XFL, which returned for its second season this year – 19 years after its first and thus far only season. The brainchild of WWE supremo Vince McMahon, a friend of Trump whose wife Linda served in the president’s cabinet for two years, and broadcaster NBC, the XFL has been described by The Independent as “basically an NFL for Trump supporters” and “a naked attempt at monetising a divided America”. It has now declared bankruptcy during the coronavirus shutdown and has no plans to return. Commentators have claimed Trump’s delayed coronavirus response was the nail in the coffin for the nascent league, with the NFL sturdy enough to survive the situation whenever sport may restart. The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018 Trump has picked battles with the NFL since taking office. In 2017, he called the players “sons of b****es” as he decried the league for allowing players to kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice. He said that players who did not stand for the anthem “maybe should not be in the country” and singled out the face of the protests, Colin Kaepernick, and his sponsors Nike. The president even cancelled the traditional White House visit for the Super Bowl champions in 2018, with the Philadelphia Eagles denied after several of their players chose to stay away. Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018 The NFL is not the only league where players have refused to visit the White House. “Psssh, I’m not going to the f******* White House,” Megan Rapinoe said ahead of the US heading to the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France. “No. I’m not going to the White House. We’re not gonna be invited. I doubt it.” NBA players have also got involved with Trump. LeBron James called the president a “bum” after the 2017 NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, were uninvited to the White House – after star Steph Curry had said he would not go. James also criticised Trump on CNN for “using sports to kind of divide us” over the NFL anthem protests. “That’s like somebody saying I can’t play ball,” James told The Hollywood Reporter after Trump had insulted his intelligence. “That doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that he has time to even do that. He has the most powerful job in the world. Like, you really got this much time that you can comment on me?” Despite his history with the NFL, last weekend Trump was calling for it to start its 2020 season in September as scheduled, following a conference call with all of the US major leagues – and the WWE. ESPN reported that Trump spoke of sport returning in August before telling reporters at his White House press briefing: “I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later. “I want fans back in the arenas,” he said, “as soon as we can, obviously. And the fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air.” To all of our youth who are missing the start of their @LittleLeague seasons, hang in there! We will get you back out on the fields, and know that you will be playing baseball soon.... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2020 Trump also tweeted to Little League players, telling them that junior baseball would resume soon. He has carried on – despite California governor Gavin Newsom expressing his reluctance and news reporters citing the medical advice and potential legal minefield of sports returning. “We have to get our sports back,” Trump said on Tuesday. “I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.” Jeremy Lin calls out Trump for ‘empowering racism’ over virus Perhaps he can get some re-runs of his own sporting career shown, such as the “Battle of the Billionaires” WWE main event where he wrestled McMahon at WrestleMania 23 in 2007. After the match Trump and his wrestling partner, Bobby Lashley, shaved McMahon’s head in the ring. Trump would be in another WWE storyline two years later and then in 2013 he was elected into the WWE Celebrity Hall of Fame. With the sporting lockdown giving us ample time to ponder – and showing no signs of abating according to the advice of experts – it is fitting to think that Trump’s only sporting success, the only claim that rings true, is in the scripted world of professional wrestling. He is likely being as creative as those scriptwriters when he fiddles his scorecards while America burns. The US needs a wartime president but they have one who is more worried about a tee time.