A new poll focused on the protests during the national anthem show a partisan divide on whether NFL players should be allowed to express themselves or fired for their “disrespectful” actions.
The poll, conducted by the Cato Institute in conjunction with YouGov, found that 65 percent of Republicans believe an NFL player should be fired if they refuse to stand for the national anthem before football games to make a political statement.
61 percent overall of those surveyed said they don’t think NFL players should be fired for their protest during the national anthem, including 80 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Independents, 55 percent of whites, 88 percent of blacks, and 60 percent of Latinos.
Following Colin Kaepernick’s decision in 2016 to stage a protest for racial equality and criminal justice reform during the national anthem, a handful of players kneeled in solidarity with his cause. It wasn’t until President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter that it finally gained national attention.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'” Trump told a crowd on Friday in Huntsville, AL. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
So far, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as virtually every team owner, has stood with their players’ right to protest during the national anthem. Some owners, like Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, locked arms with their players, while others, like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, kneeled with their players before the anthem.