Headlines over the weekend were dominated by a spat between President Donald Trump and athletes.

Breaking news items popped up on my phone continually throughout the day Sunday noting which teams took a knee or remained in the locker room, followed by updates on Trump’s latest tweet about the issue.

Thrown in for good measure was Trump’s decision to disinvite Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry from the White House because Curry would not commit to attending.

What a firestorm.

Players kneeling had been mostly a background story since Colin Kaepernick became the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem a year ago. But after Trump took to a stage to rant about kneeling players losing their jobs, shamefully calling them a derogatory term, it became a bigger deal than ever.

More players kneeled, entire teams remained in locker rooms during the anthem and everyone seemingly had to make their opinion known.

What’s a shame is that Sunday’s whirlwind of kneeling coverage distracted from things that are going on in the world right now that are far more important.

Millions of United States citizens in Puerto Rico are without power and reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

Partly because Puerto Rico is a territory instead of a state, and partly because of the distraction that has been athlete protests, attention has not been given to the victims in Puerto Rico in the same way it was for Texas and Florida. Trump did tweet out that FEMA aid will go to Puerto Rico, which is a positive, but it’s a far cry from the way the country rallied behind other victims.

Then there was the damage from a pair of earthquakes in Mexico that have left our neighbor to the south hurting.

Victims of the natural disasters in both places need the same kind of love and response that we sent to those within the continental United States.

Another important news story that should have garnered far more attention than whether or not athletes kneel is the ever-increasing tension between the United States and North Korea.

The U.S. flew bombers near North Korea last week when Trump said during a speech at the United Nations that, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

North Korea is also claiming Trump declared war on the country through a comment made on Twitter that read, “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

North Korea is now bolstering its defenses, according to Reuters.

“The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in response.

So while those on each side of the kneeling debate argued back and forth Sunday about who is in the right — each believing their side is the truly patriotic side — plenty of more important issues went more or less ignored.

Jonathan Herrmann is news editor of the News-Herald. He can be contacted at 865-986-6581 or jonathan.herrmann@news-herald.net.