President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he hoped the NFL would not reopen during the coronavirus pandemic if players and coaches knelt in protest during the national anthem.
“I would say this: If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open,” Trump said. “But other than that, I’d love to see them open, and we’re doing everything possible for getting them open. They can protest in other ways. They shouldn’t protest our flag or our country.”
The president commented on the NFL during an interview with Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis. He confirmed that he had discussions with the NFL football owners about the protests.
“They know my feelings very well. They’ve been expressed,” he chuckled.
Trump said that he was disappointed to see anthem protests when MLB baseball and NBA basketball returned.
“I did not like what baseball did, even a little bit,” he said.
He said that the anthem protests were horrible for the NBA, citing its lower ratings since reopening.
“I think it’s been horrible for basketball. Look at the basketball ratings. They’re down to very low numbers. … People are angry about it,” he said.
Trump said that the increase in politics before the games were turning away fans and affecting players.
“They have enough politics with guys like me,” he said. “They don’t need more as they’re driving down, going up for a shot. They don’t need it.”
Personally, he said, he was not comfortable with the tone of the NBA anthem protests.
“There’s a nastiness about the NBA, the way it was done too, so I think the NBA is in trouble,” Trump said.
The president reasserted his wish that every athlete would stand for the national anthem before a sporting event.
“You have to stand for your flag, and you have to respect your flag and your country,” Trump said, noting that the athletes protesting were making millions of dollars by living and playing sports in America.