Four years after NFL players began protesting during the national anthem, the attitudes and positions regarding player protests have become more polarizing politically.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that a greater percentage of Republicans and Democrats agree with the two sides of the question of whether professional athletes should be required to stand for the national anthem.
In an online survey of 1,337 American adults, 81 percent of self-identifying Republicans believe professional athletes should be required to stand for the anthem. Four years ago, a similar poll on the same question resulted in 73 percent of self-identifying Republicans taking the position that pro athletes should stand for the anthem.
For self-identifying Democrats, only 33 percent said pro athletes should be required to stand for the anthem in the 2020 poll. Four years ago, 43 percent of self-identifying Democrats believed pro athletes should be required to stand.
Overall, the number of respondents who believed pro athletes should be required to stand has dropped from 56 percent in 2016 to 54 percent now.
It’s an important set of numbers to consider, because players in significant numbers will be protesting during the anthem this year, starting this week. And it could get worse not better if/when there’s another incident of police violence against an unarmed Black man or woman at some point during the 2020 season, with the looming possibility that players or entire teams will refuse to play games.