U.S. president Donald Trump called on Americans to boycott the National Football League (NFL) in response to players protesting during the singing of the national anthem.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag (and) Country, you will see change take place fast,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning. “Fire or suspend!”
“NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN,” Trump added in a follow-up tweet. “Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”
Trump is correct about the NFL’s ratings. They plunged in 2016 after multiple players (notably former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick) refused to stand for the national anthem.
The NFL refused to blame the player protests for its falling ratings, but according to a Seton Hall poll released last October “the leading factor … was players not standing for the national anthem.”
NFL ratings have continued to fall this season as criticism over player protests has spread. Compounding this problem, #BlackLivesMatter has launched a separate boycott of the league in protest of owners’ allegedly discriminatory treatment of Kaepernick.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound signal-caller has yet to be signed by a new team after opting out of the final year of his contract with the 49ers in the spring.
Trump’s tweets bashing the NFL echoed comments he made in Alabama on Friday night.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now? He’s fired,'” Trump said during a speech in Huntsville. “He’s fired!”
Here are Trump’s remarks …
(Click to view)
Embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rebuked Trump’s comments.
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Goodell said in a statement.
The NFL isn’t the only professional sports league in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs.
Yesterday, Trump rescinded an invitation for the National Basketball Association (NBA) champion Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after their star player, Stephen Curry, indicated he was not inclined to visit the White House.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
Our view? We think both Curry and Trump are behaving childishly in regards to the White House invitation. Such events should transcend politics, and it’s rude to reject these invitations – or rescind them in response to a snub.
Both Curry and Trump need to grow up on that front.
As for the NFL protests, we have consistently supported the right of players to express themselves as they see fit during the national anthem. We’re libertarians, people. We would never object to anyone exercising their First Amendment freedom in a way that doesn’t impose upon the liberty of others. Of course, we similarly support those who decide to boycott the league as a result of these protests – or for any other reason they choose.
That’s the beauty of our free market system … every day, each of us gets to vote with our wallets.
Speaking of, what’s your vote on the NFL?
Will you be watching or attending NFL games this year?
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