RithikDoddla, Staff Reporter
In response to President Donald Trump’s tweet which said that NFL players who do not stand for the national anthem should be fired, all 32 NFL teams have had their own unique responses in the season’s third week. Some teams kneeled and locked arms before the national anthem while other teams showed these signs of protest while the national anthem was playing. There were even teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers who remained in the locker room for the singing of the national anthem. With each team protesting in its own way, fans were left to either support them or oppose them.
NFL fans had a wide range of responses to the protests. They ranged from cheering in support in the stands to insulting with expletives on social media. A remarkable reaction occurred during the Dallas Cowboys versus Arizona Cardinals game where the crowd loudly booed the Cowboys, as they kneeled and locked arms. Ratings for week three games on NBC, CBS and Fox decreased by four percent.
The latest ESPN polls embodies that American citizens are divided over this issue. Overall, 39 percent of people agreed with the movement with 24 percent strongly approving. Fifty-one percent of the respondents, however, disagreed with the movement with 38 percent showing strong disapproval. ESPN also recorded the race of the people surveyed and found that 54 percent of African Americans strongly agreed and 48 percent of Caucasians strongly disagreed. These protests may be receiving more support from African Americans because, after all, the players are kneeling to voice opposition for police brutality against African Americans.
ESPN also took another poll on viewers’ interest in watching the games after the protests. Fourteen percent of the people say they are more interested because of the protests, 40 percent say they are less interested and 43 percent say it has had no impact on their interest of the game. People who are less interested most likely feel that way because they may be bothered by the kneeling as they believe kneeling does not show respect to the national anthem. Among the avid NFL fans surveyed, 48 percent believe protests have had no impact on their interest and 31 percent believe is has made them less interested. This is significant because that means about a third of the hardcore NFL fans who watch football every Sunday are greatly disturbed by the “take a knee” movement.
Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, held a meeting recently with NFL teams’ owners on instigating a rule requiring all players to stand for the national anthem. This has angered many players because the players feel they are exercising their right to protest and are using their platform to make a statement. Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea has expressed his displeasure to the NFL Network, claiming that it has become a national issue just because President Donald Trump tweeted against it. Bethea explained how the movement started last year with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL and its fans had no issues with it, respecting players’ opinions. The NFL has yet to make a statement on whether or not they plan on requiring players to stand. It will be interesting to see how players and fans respond if the league does decide to permit kneeling.