Protests become even more politically divisive

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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.

70 responses to “Protests become even more politically divisive

  1. When the politics overshadow the game I will lose interest. Sports are an escape from the daily pressures. A place where you can sit down next to anyone andthe only thing that matters is which team you’re rooting for. Professional athletes have plenty of pathways and opportunities to espouse any cause they believe in. As fans just let us enjoy the games.

  2. This is one of those cases where what the fans think matters not at all. The players are going to express themselves one way or the other, and if you don’t like it go watch women’s tennis. Not that long until the curling season starts in Canada.

  3. Just stop,playing national anthems before sporting events. It’s an archaic tradition. Problem solved.

  4. Stand, don’t stand…I dont think we care anymore. Its old and apathy has set in.

  5. I think we have all found out. The teams need the fans, more than the fans need the teams.Go ahead and kneel and watch your fan base shrink again.

  6. If you’re watching to see who is or isn’t standing, your interest was never in football anyway.

    Let’s play some football.

  7. I get a kick out of those who support the protests who fail to grasp that there is a large percentage of fans that do not. And the players are playing with fire here. Perhaps they should read about the guy who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

  8. This republican was over this argument long ago. I don’t know what kneeling gets anyone. We all bleed red, i have never looked at color as part of someone’s make or creed. Let’s move on

  9. COVID taught us we could live without sports. If all sports become political you’ll see people walking away a bit easier than before. Just look at the NBA…

  10. Dear NFL programming do not go political. I gave College Gameday a mulligan last week. But I’m over this crap

  11. If the goal was to alienate most of the fan base, reduce interest and lower ratings they have succeeded.

  12. Instead of sitting out games, why don’t the players and coaches just start giving public speeches on the importance of complying with police officers and obeying our laws. This will help us all to spot the hypocrites almost immediately.

  13. Ratings for MLB and the NBA have plummeted. I wonder if the same will happen with the NFL. I know I was surprised how little I missed sports this summer.

  14. I will not be watching any pre game shows and will be tuning into the games about 5 mins into it so I don’t have to be beaten over the head with all this crap. Just here to watch a FOOTBALL GAME. I don’t want to hear what the players political stances are nor what anyone else’s political stances are.

  15. Professional athletes are doing a great job of convincing their fans that there are issues more important than sports.

    Their problem will be when we completely agree with them.

  16. Who cares what the players do or don’t do during the anthem? Who actually even watches the anthem?

  17. Surveys accomplish nothing.
    1337 surveyed out of a country of over 300 million?
    Miniscule amount surveyed.

  18. Now that they have decided to plaster sayings all of the endzones , wait till a player scores TD and showboats over a saying.

  19. “This is one of those cases where what the fans think matters not at all.”

    We’ll see, huh. Let’s not forget who consumes the NFL’s product.

  20. Its messed up because it was stated that the kneeling was to bring awareness to the problems at hand…. Im pretty dang sure we cant get any more aware than we currently are. Its time to turn the corner and start working on making changes…we need to unite to do so…. Standing united for the flag and anthem of OUR country seems right. Jmho

  21. If someone still think kneeling is about disrespecting the flag, there is probably no hope for that person to understand what it’s really about

  22. Another reason to get rid of the anthem before the games. Superbowl is the only game when the anthem should be played.

  23. Easy answer for people who are so turned off by the thought of someone kneeling during is not to just not watch the national anthem.

  24. Kneeling during the national anthem is a non disruptive, non violent, and a respectful form of protest. If you actually loved America and democracy you would appreciate that, even if you didn’t agree with the people participating in a non disruptive non violent and respectful form of protest, you would at least be thankful that you lived in a country where that sort of thing was ok.

  25. Telling someone they have to stand for the flag sounds like forced patriotism…if someone is a true patriot, they would respect others right to exercise their freedom not to participate in saluting the flag…I sincerely hope those that threaten to “leave” if the players continue to kneel follow through with their threat and just leave. The flag means different things to different people and for many that flag represents a country that still doesn’t treat them equally…it’s amazing that people focus on overblown “riots” and who is standing during the anthem, but spend no time trying to understand why these things happen or looking around and realizing this country isn’t the same for everyone…

  26. If I recall correctly, prior to 9/11, the players were in the locker room for the anthem.
    The NFL could have solved this self-created problem for years ago by leaving the players in the locker room.
    And, for all of the misguided comments regarding how the fans are the reason the NFL is so popular, the NFL exists for gambling. Not the fans.

  27. Using coercion to make someone do something and/or to prevent a victimless behavior is ALWAYS wrong. No matter one’s personal preferences, coercion being used to satisfy one’s personal preferences will ALWAYS transgress Natural Law.

  28. Sports is entertainment and we’ve always had to accept the entertainers’ quirks and foibles with the entertainment. If you don’t like it — change the channel.

  29. Requiring people to stand for the flag, instead of respectfully kneeling, is playing politics.

  30. We turn on the tube to watch the game. Everything else is not why we turn on the tube. Bill

  31. These pro athletes need to realize that the fans of their particular sport are the ones that pay their wages. As a fan, I am paying to see entertainment….period. I am not paying an athlete for his or her personal opinion on anything other than the sport that they are participating in. My days of watching pro sports have pretty much come to an end. I’m tired of these athletes telling me they have the right to protest during the time that I am paying them to do otherwise.

  32. I have been a Die Hard Browns fan since I was 6 (40 Now). Ive never missed 1 snap live or on tv live.

    My wife always asks me why I am such a fan when we pretty much suck. My Answer: “16 Times a Year Its the one thing I can always count on being there from 1-4pm” I am Loyal, I look forward to it all week and have for many years.

    The day this team decides not to show up at 1PM on A Sunday (Hold the jokes about they never show up) is the day Im done with the NFL.

  33. Just keep your cameras off the protesters. Let them protest all they want, just don’t show it so the rest of us can enjoy the games.

  34. If the guy with a normal job sent out a political email to everyone in the company, they would be fired. I support their right to protest, but on their employers time it’s not acceptable. Stay in the locker room for the anthem if you want to he political.

  35. Don’t report news on it. Stop putting cameras on those who kneel or stand, and naming names of one or he other. It’s divisive.

  36. dangerruss1919 says:
    September 9, 2020 at 6:15 pm
    Just stop,playing national anthems before sporting events. It’s an archaic tradition. Problem solved.

    357 387 Rate This


    Honestly the best answer and it shows by the almost even up/down rating.

  37. The NFL will see a mass exodus with it’s fan base. Americans actually realized how little they actually have missed sports the past few months. Think I’m crazy? Check the ratings of MLB and the absolute disappearance of the NBA from the Big 3 pro sports in America. The NHL based on ratings has passed up the hijacked and complete political puppet show the NBA has become. Go ahead and kneel and make it political. You need fans more than fans need you.

  38. I’m curious how many people who are deeply offended by players taking a knee are standing in their living rooms while the anthem plays. Or even more disrespectful, use it as a bathroom break or a chance to run to the kitchen for a beer or to load up their plate. Unless every Sunday you’ve been standing on your feet at home, hand on heart, you’re in no position to wrap yourself in the flag and talk about someone else’s disrespect for the anthem or our troops. A mouth full of Doritos isn’t a sign of respect.

  39. What is the point in playing the anthem when there wont be any fans for 31/32 teams.

    If it plays go back to the 90s where it played before the players run out. Allow players to enter into a matching fund where ever dollar they donate to a social justice foundation be matched by the league with no dollar limit. Everyone wims except those who want to talk about the anthem everyday.

  40. The protests of recent years have been divisive. Things like not standing for the Anthem and vandalism are protest strategies that shouldn’t be used. Ever.

  41. correctingerrors says:
    September 9, 2020 at 8:17 pm
    If someone still think kneeling is about disrespecting the flag, there is probably no hope for that person to understand what it’s really about


    People were never mad about why. They were mad about the protest strategy.

  42. I’m not a US citizen but i’ll always choose to stand for the Flag and Anthem. That said, just start the television coverage of the game at kickoff and let that be the end of it. That, or I’ll just pause and fast forward through all the kneeling til kickoff.

  43. I envision a repeat of 2016 in terms of ratings. I think people are going to watch the first week because they’re starved for something normal here in 2020, but once they see the full-court press the league is doing to shove social justice down our throats during the game, a lot of people are going to just quit watching.

    Whether you agree or disagree with the protests, one thing that is fairly unanimous is that we pay money to watch football on Sunday. It is a reprieve from the stresses we deal with all week. If football becomes just another platform to get people riled up about social justice issues, people will organically lose interest.

    Ignore the “boycott NFL” crowd and start listening to people who are genuinely losing interest because this drama waters down their enjoyment of the product.

  44. 2020 has been the greatest of my 50 years. No longer do I sit around at night drinking beer and watching sports. I now spend a lot more time with my wife and kids, taking online classes, picked up new hobbies, gotten into great shape. No going back for me.

  45. naturallawandselfownership says:
    September 9, 2020 at 9:12 pm
    Using coercion to make someone do something and/or to prevent a victimless behavior is ALWAYS wrong. No matter one’s personal preferences, coercion being used to satisfy one’s personal preferences will ALWAYS transgress Natural Law.
    That is a sentiment with which the players strenuously disagree as evidenced by them forcing Drew Brees to apologize to them for the audacity of having the opinion that people should stand for the Anthem and protest at a different time.

  46. Drew Brees wasn’t “forced” to do anything. He had a discussion with his teammates and was open-minded enough to see things from their perspective and it affected his opinion.

  47. The Dallas Cowboys weren’t allowed to honor the Police Officers that were ambushed and killed in 2016. NFL players are allowed to “honor” people who were involved in Officer Involved Shootings. Shows you the agenda.

  48. wreed1 says:
    September 10, 2020 at 3:58 am
    correctingerrors says:
    September 9, 2020 at 8:17 pm
    If someone still think kneeling is about disrespecting the flag, there is probably no hope for that person to understand what it’s really about

    If you still do not understand why kneeling is disrespecting the flag, there is probably no hope for you to understand what it’s really about.

    Stand for the Flag
    Kneel to God
    Protest on your own time

    NFL: the fans are not interested in the Left’s political agenda, revolutionary aspirations or new normal. Ignore us at your financial peril.

  49. I have great respect for the flag. I also have great respect for the freedom to protest. If there is something that’s a problem that many people aren’t getting, then protest is an often unpleasant but necessary approach to upsetting the status quo. Back in the sixties I used to say if you don’t like flag burning, then don’t pay so much attention when it happens. If you’re upset remember that is literally the exact reason for doing it.

    I have great respect for the police. I’m a grownup but like to say they’re my heroes. But something in our policing is broken. Everybody knows it. The men and women who are in there need to be part of the fix. MANY many are aware. Violence is never an answer.’Protestors’ who support violence need to be arrested and the rest of us move forward.

    I have great respect for our armed forces. Why are they even in this conversation? This doesn’t really pertain to them. The flag is a symbol. It doesn’t get broken because someone kneels or even if it gets burned.It’s much stronger than that. At lease some and maybe most of them love it as much as you and I

  50. if the players refuse to do their jobs then they should be fired and banned from the league. Refusing to work is grounds for dismissal for everyone else in the world.

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