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Trump Re-ignited The Anthem Protests

At the start of last season former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the U.S. national anthem. The timing of Kaepernick’s protest was unfortunate as it coincided with his worst season in the league.

Kaepernick opted for free agency rather than face the embarrassment of being cut.

Kaepernick appeared to be close to signing with the Baltimore Ravens until his girlfriend compared the Ravens owner to a slave master, and Kaepernick remains unsigned.

The anthem protests appeared to have fizzled out over the first two weeks of the 2017 NFL season.

NFL Ratings

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Alabama on Friday and re-ignited the issue. Trump addressed the issue of NFL ratings continuing to plummet. Trump pretty accurately explained the fall in NFL ratings:

“You know what’s hurting the game?” he asked. “When people like yourselves turn on a television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.  

Trump proceeded to whip up the crowd and angered his progressive foes:

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Divisive Comments

The response for the NFL was predictably favorable to the progressive cause and tone deaf to the reasons behind the drop in NFL television ratings:

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement.

Roger Goodell has never condemned the anthem protests or the players taking part in them. Goodell appears to be as blind to public sentiment as was Hillary Clinton. White, working-class men are a significant portion of NFL viewers. More than three in four NFL viewers are white, four in five are men and 48% of NFL fans make less than $75,000 a year.

Demographics Matter

The same demographic that elected Trump is the group most likely to watch the NFL.

Tucker Carlson presented the conservative media view of the anthem protests during the preseason:

“We’re only two weeks in the NFL preseason, already many of the league’s richest players have gone out of their way to let you know how much they hate your country. On Monday, a dozen members of the Cleveland Browns refused to stand for the national anthem because of racism or something.”

Jason Whitlock quickly shot down the value of anthem protests in the segment in which Carlson made his comments:

“There are NFL players, black and white, who know that if you really want to address police brutality, social justice, inequality in this country, protesting the national anthem is the perfect way for your message to get completely lost,” Whitlock said.

Carlson and Whitlock prove why Trump lashed out at the anthem protests. There is a significant proportion of the football viewing audience that supported Donald Trump in November. It seems reasonable that the crowd cheering his comments on anthem protests in Alabama represent the views of many Trump voters.

Fan Displeasure

The fans are letting their displeasure with the anthem protests be known. Sunday night’s ratings were the lowest for a week three Sunday night game in 11 years. Fans in Arizona booed when the Dallas Cowboys took a knee on Monday night. Fans in Foxboro booed when the Patriots took a knee.

Donald Trump appeals to white working-class voters who felt dismissed by East coast elites and other progressives who look down on them. His comments on Friday simply reminded white working-class voters of the utter contempt that progressives feel for them.

Trump reminded his supporters that he shares their beliefs and motivated them to continue supporting him. The NFL will likely see the downward trend of ratings continue as they continue to support attacks on the beliefs of their core audience.

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