Polling in the last year has been split half and half on support for players in the NFL kneeling during the National Anthem, and a lot of the variance depends on how the questions are asked in the surveys.
President Donald Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House after their recent Super Bowl win. The White House said the event would be called off and replaced with a celebration of the National Anthem and Trump tweeted that was the cause. But it may also be that a large number of players simply weren’t going to show up.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said in a statement. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.
No Eagles sat or knelt during the National Anthem during the last NFL season, although some did protest by raising their fists.
Last month, the NFL announced that it would be instating a new rule requiring players to either stand during the National Anthem or stay in the locker room. President Trump has balked at the idea of allowing players to say in the locker room.
The most recent public opinion survey on the issue was conducted by Marist college in January of this year. They asked a fairly straightforward: “Do you think professional football athletes playing in the Super Bowl should be required to stand for the National Anthem or should they be allowed to kneel if they choose?” Forty-seven percent said players should be required to stand and 48% said they should be allowed to kneel.
However, a week earlier, Public Religion Research Institute asked, “Do you completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree or completely disagree? Professional athletes should be required to stand during the National Anthem at sporting events.” In this case, 60% of Americans said they agreed that professional athletes should be required to stand and 36% disagreed, significantly different numbers than those found by Marist.
A CNN/SSRS poll, taken late September, found similar splits to Marist’s January poll. Forty-nine percent say “professional sports leagues, such as the NFL, should require their athletes to stand for the National Anthem” while 47% say they should not require them to stand.
Asked in that CNN poll last fall if they thought “Donald Trump did the right thing or the wrong thing by criticizing athletes from the National football League who have protested by kneeling during the National Anthem” a majority of respondents – 60% – said the President did the wrong thing. The 2018 uninviting of the Eagles is unprecedented by the President. They’re not the first team to refuse attendance at a White House event, including parts of the Patriots, some Olympians, and others.