Via the Free Beacon, this is noteworthy but not surprising. If you’ve heard the boos at the games, you know there’s displeasure even among fans who aren’t boycotting. The Raiders were apparently so concerned about Marshawn Lynch choosing to sit during the anthem yesterday that they had a bunch of staff crowd around him, seemingly trying to block him from view. (Lynch is the same player seen wearing an “Everybody vs. Trump” t-shirt before the game.) Darren Rovell of ESPN kept tabs and tweeted this after the start of Sunday’s 1 p.m. games:
Last week, about 180 NFL players didn't stand for the National Anthem. This week? 11. pic.twitter.com/L1NAIXKyZx
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 1, 2017
Things were livelier during the 4 p.m. games thanks to the 49ers, who last played the day before Trump’s rally in Alabama and therefore hadn’t had a chance yet to show solidarity with their former teammate Colin Kaepernick after Trump’s remarks. Multiple players kneeled but overall the number of protests league-wide remained down from week three as the urgency of pushing back on Trump faded. Some players, including Cam Newton, have now taken to raising a fist instead. “I did it to show black pride, because I am an African American,” said Newton. We’ll see how that goes over, anthem or no anthem.
Before Trump declares victory, though, a new poll from USA Today and Suffolk:
Two-thirds in the poll of registered voters, by 68%-27%, say Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire the players and fans to boycott their games is inappropriate. That includes a third of Republicans as well as nine of 10 Democrats.
By 51%-42%, those surveyed say the players’ protests are appropriate…
A third of those polled, 33%, say the protests make them less likely to attend a game or watch it on TV. Seven percent say it makes them more likely to watch a game, but most, 56%, say it wouldn’t have any impact.
That’s the first time I can recall seeing Americans side with the players in calling their protests appropriate. Last week various surveys showed people weren’t thrilled with Trump’s call for firing players who kneel but on balance they agreed with him that kneeling during the anthem is inappropriate. Now they don’t. Has he triggered a backlash or is this an outlier?
Even if there is a backlash to Trump brewing, note that fully a third of those polled say they’re less likely to watch a game now than before. I suspect there’s a generation gap to that: In my own family, older adults are choosing not to watch the games now while younger ones are shrugging it off and tuning in. In a CNN poll taken last week, senior citizens were waaaay more likely than any other age group to say that kneeling during the anthem is the “wrong thing” to do to express your political beliefs. Senior citizens are also more likely to be Republican than other groups, though, so it may be ideology more than age or formative culture that’s driving that.
Here’s the CNN report from yesterday as well as video of the Baltimore Ravens getting booed lustily as they take a knee — before the anthem. If disapproval of the protests is all about the flag and the anthem, why boo a demonstration that takes place before the anthem plays?