As one sports league after another bends the knee, President Donald Trump decided to give voice to the frustration that many Americans are feeling of late.
The National Football League (NFL) shouldn’t even play unless players stand for the national anthem, the president told radio host Clay Travis on Tuesday, according to Fox News.
“They can protest in other ways”
Over the years, Trump has made no secret of his feelings on the kneeling protests sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Despite significant opposition early on, the protests have become more successful than many might have imagined when they began back in 2016. The displays have rapidly become an unavoidable sight in professional sports, and indeed much of American life more generally, in the wake of Black Lives Matter-led demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Commenting on the controversy, Trump said that he wants to see the NFL return — but not if players are going to kneel for the anthem, stating:
Well, they want to open, and they want to open badly, and they’ve been working with government. And I would say this, if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open.
“But other than that, I want to see them open, and we’re doing everything possible for getting them open, and they can protest in other ways. They shouldn’t protest our flag or our country,” the president declared.
“They have to respect their country”
Trump also expressed his displeasure with Major League Baseball, which saw players kneel at the start of the season for the first time.
“I did not like what baseball did even a little bit. Again, you have to stand for your flag and you have to stand for your flag and your country,” he said, according to Fox News. “They’re making millions of dollars a year to play a sport you’d be playing anyway if you didn’t make…they’d be playing it on the weekends. They have to respect their country.”
Trump also claimed that the National Basketball Association is in “big trouble” because of the protests, to which he attributed a notable dip in television ratings for recent games.
Despite the president’s bold stance on this issue, the lingering effects of earlier protests seem to remain. In a notable capitulation, according to the New York Post, the NFL recently apologized for the way it responded to kneeling protests in the past, saying the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players.”
Furthermore, according to CBS News, for the first time, a majority of Americans support kneeling as a means of social protest.
With any luck, the “woke” displays that have become sadly ubiquitous in professional sports venues across the land will reach a saturation point, and a return to proud patriotism will take root sooner rather than later.