Donald Trump Denounces Protesting During the National Anthem

At a political rally in Huntsville, Ala. on Friday, Sept. 22,  President Donald Trump criticized athletes who kneel during the national anthem. During the speech, the President said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now?’” In the past, athletes have kneeled during the national anthem to protest and spread awareness about police brutality and racial profiling against African-Americans.

President Trump’s remarks have caused backlash from athletes in the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and other sports leagues. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who in the past avoided taking sides on the kneeling issue, released a statement on Saturday morning, Sept. 23, that said, “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…”

Following the criticism from the NFL as well as the NBA, Trump responded through a series of tweets. Some of the tweets were released during a joint press conference with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday. The tweets sparked controversy on whether Trump was preoccupied with the NFL instead of with the damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In the tweets, Trump suggested that the NFL should enact a rule that would prohibit players from kneeling during the anthem.  

The fight between the President and sports teams continued into Sunday, when many football teams were scheduled to play. Team owners joined their teams in protest by kneeling or locking arms. Other teams, such as the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans, remained in their locker rooms. The Oakland Raiders were booed for kneeling during the national anthem, while the Seahawks were met with silence that The New York Times has described as eerie.

Other sports leagues also joined in, while other notably did not. Athletes from the Women’s National Basketball Association protested on Sunday, Sept. 24 in Minneapolis, and baseball players from Oakland Athletics were the first to protest at a Major League baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 23. In contrast, Associated Press reported that there were no protesting Nascar drivers on Sunday, while the Pittsburgh Penguins released a statement stating that they will visit the White House soon.   

Trump tweeted that while kneeling is bad, standing and locking arms was an acceptable form of protest. His appreciation for locking arms came after the Arizona Cardinals decided to lock arms instead of kneel, while the Dallas Cowboys decided to kneel before the game, but stand for the anthem.



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