Despite President Donald Trump’s racially-tinged demagoguery in trying to demonize NFL players for not standing for the national anthem, there has been a noticeable paradigm shift in how Americans view the national anthem protests from a year ago, according to an HBO Real Sports/Marist College poll.
According to the poll, 51 percent of the country believes professional sports leagues should not mandate that their players stand for the national anthem while 47 percent believe they should. When this same poll was taken more than a year ago, in September 2016, the results were the opposite: 52 percent said they should be forced to stand and 43 percent said they should not.
This represents progress, which is all Colin Kaepernick wanted to begin with.
During that time in 2016 until now, however, Trump tried to excoriate the NFL for not bending to his narrow-minded wishes that the league force its players to stand – and should immediately terminate any player who refuses to do so. Of course, since there is no political capital to be gained by talking about reducing police brutality and creating equality at predominantly white rallies in Alabama and Arizona, Trump has deliberately avoided the reasons the NFL players are kneeling in the first place.
(To be clear, the Dallas Cowboys cut Damontre Moore on Oct. 26, one of the two Cowboys players who raised a fist towards the end of the “Star-Spangled Banner” every week. The Cowboys deny Moore was cut because of his protest, but owner Jerry Jones made it unequivocally clear that he forbade players from demonstrating during the national anthem).
After former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s began sitting, then kneeling, during the national anthem in 2016, hundreds of NFL players have followed his lead this season. They’ve accomplished this by either kneeling or raising a fist or embracing other players who choose to protest.
The controversy rose to a crescendo during NFL meetings in New York last week, with commissioner Roger Goodell doubling down on his stance that, while he wants players to stand, they should not be punished for exercising their 1st Amendment rights. This put him directly at odds with Trump, who chastised him and the NFL’s stance as being an affront to, in Trump’s words, “our great country.”
For this particular poll, responders were broken down by region of the country and race, making for a dynamic and interesting study:
–People who lived in the West of the country were 58%-40% against making players stand;
–The Northeast was 52%-46% against;
–The South was 50%-48% for making players stand;
–The Midwest was 50%-47% for making players stand.
–White responders were 54%-44% for making players stand; black responders were 76%-14% against; and Latino responders were 56%-43% against.
Education and age also were interesting numbers.
–White responders who had no college education were 62%-35% for making players stand and white responders with a college education were 59%-40% against making players stand.
–Non-white responders with no college education were 62%-35% against and non-white responders with a college education were 65%-34% against.
–Ages 18-29 were 70%-29% against making players stand; ages 30-44 were 57%-42% against; ages 45-59 were 55%-42% for making players stand; and ages 60 and older were 58%-38% for standing.