A new poll of American voters reveals that a strong majority believe that NFL anthem protesters are not unpatriotic.
A new Quinnipiac poll of registered voters across the nation finds that 58 percent say that NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem are not necessarily unpatriotic, compared to 35 percent who say the opposite.
A majority of respondents also said that players have a right to protest at work. 53 percent said that players have a right to protest on the playing field or court, while 43 percent said they do not.
On the other hand, even as the majority seems to support the players’ rights, respondents also said that they agree with the NFL’s rule to require players to stand at attention on the sideline during the song. 51 percent supported the NFL’s policy while 42 percent did not.
Still, a majority also opposed NFL fines for teams that allowed players to violate the ban with 51 percent saying no to fines, while 44 percent agreed with fines.
“Voters are clearly torn on the National Anthem issue. They seem to be saying, ‘You can still love your country and kneel during its Anthem,’ but the NFL’s new ‘must stand’ mandate is fine with them, too,” said Quinnipiac’s assistant director Tim Malloy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the poll offered a great disparity along racial and political lines.
Large majorities of white and Republican respondents did not support the players. 70 percent said players who protest are unpatriotic, versus only 23 percent who opposed the idea. While a very strong and 81 percent said the players have no right to protest at work, while only 16 percent agreed with that statement.
Meanwhile, blacks and Democrats heavily supported the players. 82 percent said players have a right to protest, while at 85 percent said they support the protests.
Quinnipiac reported that they surveyed 1,223 voters nationwide, with a margin of error of plus of minus 3.4 percentage points.
The release of the poll served as a means for Pro Football Talk to criticize the NFL. PFT’s Mike Florio slammed the NFL saying that the league, “has chosen to listen only to those fans who believe protesting during the national anthem isn’t patriotic. Plenty of fans, inexplicably ignored by the NFL, disagree.”
Though, the poll does not support Florio’s conclusion. The Quinnipiac poll quizzed “voters,” about whether they believe the players are patriotic. The NFL does not cater to American “voters,” nor does it have an obligation to do so. The NFL caters to football fans, not “voters.”
Indeed several other recent polls showed that actual football fans were more in line with the NFL’s new policy.
A May 25 Yahoo! Sports/YouGov poll, for instance, found that a large majority of white and Hispanic football fans support the NFL’s new policy, though black fans were significantly opposed to it.
The poll also discovered that “NFL fans are more supportive of the new policy than the general public, which came in 48 percent for vs. 32 percent against.”
Meanwhile, another poll, this one by SurveyMonkey, found that those who identify as NFL fans support a ban on the protests at a rate of 56 percent.
So, contrary to Mike Florio’s assertion, the NFL is listening more to its fans than to the general public, as all businesses should.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.