When you can’t get the answer you want in your poll, change the poll. That seems to be what happened when USA Today asked people what they thought of NFL players protesting during the anthem.
According to a recent USA Today/Suffolk poll, 51 percent of respondents said that NFL players protesting during the anthem is, “appropriate,” while 42 percent said it was not appropriate. In the same poll, 68 percent said that President Donald Trump’s calls for team owners to fire protesting players, and for fans to boycott the games, was inappropriate. While 27 percent said that they felt the president’s words were appropriate.
The exact question the respondents were asked, wasn’t included in the article about the poll. However, several interesting things jump out about these results.
Let’s start with the word, “appropriate.” This is an interesting word, for several reasons, but its especially interesting because of what it doesn’t mean, as opposed to what it does mean. Appropriate, cannot and should not be confused with the word “right,” or “agree.” In saying that they feel the anthem protests are appropriate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the respondents agree with the protests. What it could mean, is that the respondents merely accept that the players have a right to protest. An aspect of the discussion that few people even bother to debate.
The part about President Trump, and his comments in Alabama seems less mysterious. Many people, even conservatives and Republicans, took issue with the colorful way Trump made his points. Though, that doesn’t mean they disagreed with his point. A national survey which came out days after Trump’s comments made this very point. When asked if they agreed with President Trump that players should stand and be respectful during the anthem? A huge majority, 64 percent, said yes.
So while some might have preferred Trump use different language, or, not yell. The public seems very much in-line with his thinking, as demonstrated by polls and NFL ratings. Which means, USA Today’s headline declaring, “Americans Say Trump Is Wrong on NFL Protests,” is more than a bit of a reach.
A Rasmussen poll showed that 34 percent said the anthem protests made them less likely to watch the NFL, and a J.D. Power Survey revealed anthem protests as the number one reason why fans were drifting from the league. So, it would seem quite the anomaly, if the respondents of the USA Today poll meant that they approved of the sentiment of the players.
In any event, regardless of polls, NFL fans are letting their feelings about the anthem protests be known in the television ratings, and at the ticket offices, and there’s no mistaking what how they feel.