Eh, it’s more the case that they’re afraid of the left. The left has been far more fearsome an opponent for corporations in organizing boycotts for its pet causes than the right has. And given the cause Kaepernick kneeled for, ending police brutality against blacks, plus the fact that it’s almost exclusively black players participating in the protests, the overwhelmingly white owners coming out against them would open them up to endless criticism that they’re motivated by racism. That’s also why Trump’s point that the league has all sorts of petty rules for everything doesn’t work here. Telling a player he can’t dance in the end zone has no political or racial component. Telling a player he has to stand for the anthem when he’s been kneeling to protest state violence against blacks is another ballgame.
Trump’s right, sort of, that the public is on his side on this although it depends on precisely how you define “his side.” Reuters found that 58 percent agree that players should be required to stand for the anthem but 57 percent disagree with Trump that they should be fired if they don’t. YouGov asked the same questions and got similar results. By a margin of 48/36, Americans think protesting during the anthem is inappropriate — but by a margin of 52/30 they don’t think players should be fired for doing it. They don’t like Trump’s contribution to the process either:
Fox News also polled this issue in the last few days. Yet again, the public agrees with Trump that the protests during the anthem are inappropriate. But:
The "Trump effect": Fox News Poll suggests his incessant focus on NFL has actually made kneeling protest 9pts more popular than previously. pic.twitter.com/OK0hG9n7qa
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) September 28, 2017
Opinion has drifted towards finding the protests appropriate over the past year. There’s no way to tell from that if it’s been a gradual thing, increasing organically over time, or a sudden reaction to an unpopular president throwing rhetorical grenades at the subject. There probably *is* a Trump effect, I’d guess. If nothing else, having him chime in so loudly against the protests probably moved a few soft opponents of the demonstrations on the Democratic side into supporting them.
Here he is this morning via the Free Beacon. One other intriguing detail from the YouGov poll: Despite Trump’s best efforts to frame the protests as an attack on the flag, just 12 percent of the public believes that that’s their purpose. Forty-eight percent said the point was to protest police violence while 40 percent said they believed the point was to protest … Donald Trump. Even among Republicans, just 24 percent see the protests as motivated by a desire to protest the flag. Trump’s entry into this battle has succeeded in pitting him against the players in the public’s mind but seemingly hasn’t succeeded in pitting them against the flag.