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President Donald Trump ignited a social firestorm over his comments about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Our "Political Insiders" say Trump's comments, and the controversy that followed will mostly not change their viewing habits toward the NFL and other professional sports.

 
President Trump attacked NFL players who kneel during the national anthem last week, and encouraged his supporters to boycott the NFL, saying NFL owners who see players who "disrespecting the flag" should respond "get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired."
 
The kneeling protests were started by Colin Kaepernick who refused to stand during the national anthem because of the treatment of racial minorities in the U.S. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," said Kaepernick in August of 2016.
 
Most of our "Political Insiders" say their viewing habits when it comes to the NFL and other professional sports will mostly remain the same.
 
  • 51% of the Republicans on our panel said their viewing habits wouldn't change because of the controversy. 59% of Democrats and 44% of our readers agreed.

  • 47% of Republicans and 39% of our readers said they would watch less, while only 6% of Democrats feel that way.

  • 35% of Democrats said they would watch more professional sports, while just 2% of Republicans and 17% of our readers felt that way.
 

Selected anonymous comments:
 
The flag is not a mere symbol of support for our armed forces – as Trump has tried to define it. It is a symbol of our national democratic republic and its freedoms. One of those freedoms – a freedom for which many have died – is freedom of speech and expression. Not standing for the flag does not automatically mean that a person doesn’t respect our servicemen and their sacrifices. It doesn’t mean they are trying to repudiate our country. Trump has diabolically used a false interpretation of our national ensign to drive ugly wedges of cultural and racial division. I shudder at his lack of understanding of our Constitution and the rights it confers to U.S. citizens. And I weep over the divisiveness that is ripping apart our country – fueled by his tantrums and tweets.
 
I watch football to get away from politics. I’d rather the networks just start the broadcast at kickoff.
 
I didn't watch before, and I'm not going to start now. I've seen fewer crybabies and drama queens in middle school theater productions of "Little Women."
 
I can't believe Trump doesn't have more important things to focus on than this.
 
Donald Trump may be president, regrettably, but he is not emperor. He needs to shut his mouth and try being presidential for a change.
 
There are real and legitimate differences in the culture wars. Unfortunately, we spend 95% of the time fighting over things that are nearly entirely frivolous and avoid substantive argument in the first place. It's because people are only looking for/or to defend group identity at the cost of the nuance and complexity of the real world.
 
I went from being a rabid NFL fanatic to watching fewer games over the last 4 to 5 years. I hardly ever watch the NFL now because it is just plain boring. When Tim Tebow praying was called a distraction but allowing wife/girlfriend beaters and felons to disrespect the flag is accepted I am totally done. Goodbye NFL, the NHL is the only pro sports league worth a damn.
 
Millionaire athletes complaining about inequality is laughable. They need to show a little respect. I'll just watch college ball.
 
I don't watch NFL now, and I won't in the future.
 
I don't watch football unless there is absolutely nothing I can do outside.
 
Trump thrives on political upheaval and creating divisiveness. The issues aren't really that important--only a means to the end. It's all just about Donald Trump. Once you understand this principle, you can understand all he's doing.
 
It's complicated. I get that there are inequalities and frustration, but there are better ways to make changes, especially when you're a multi-millionaire being paid to play a kids game! This just comes off as spoiled, rich brats who are disrespecting the flag.
 
The current protests are about not liking President Trump, plain and simple. Everyone has lost their minds when it comes to Trump.
 
President Trump needs to keep out of my football game. This is where I go to get a rest from divisive political rhetoric.
 
Protest Trump all you want, but stop doing it on the sports field. I don’t care about your politics; I care how well you can throw the ball.
 
I am not a pro sports fan. This display by the NFL, however, will make me even less likely to watch spoiled, overpaid athletes.
 
I don't watch NFL games anyway....not in protest, but because I a really could care less. I do like college football, however.
 
I find it ironic that professional athletes are disrespecting the country that made them millionaires. Maybe they can start up a professional whateverball league in North Korea or Iraq. There are more constructive ways to bring about change in our nation.
 
 
Trump is a polarizing, narcissistic, bully. The 1st Amendment guarantees us freedom of speech and that is exactly what these athletes are exercising. If you don't like it, don't watch, but they have the right to choose when and how they exercise their rights. Plus, pledging allegiance, standing, putting your hand on your heart, or whatever you do towards an inanimate object, doesn't make you any more or less of a patriot. It is your actions every other day if the week!
 
I love football, and I support the players' right to protest, and I support the cause to gain greater racial equality in our country.
 
Lt. Gov. Cox was right on. Trump's base who need a dog to fight gets riled up by this posing, while reasonable people of all parties see his behavior as the continual campaigning and avoidance of substantial issues that it is.
 
This is not about patriotism. It is about equal treatment for all under the law.
 
Idiots, idiots everywhere. Every time I swing a cat, I hit an idiot.
 
Didn't care before. Don't care now. Go Jazz!
 
I have no interest in football and have never watched again. But because of Trump, I'm considering flying to a game somewhere just to kneel during the anthem.
 
I support this great country, and the flag/anthem is the symbol of this country. Pro athletes and the rest us would not have a job or conditions as they have without the USA. Their gestures of sitting during the anthem are selfish. The USA is far from perfect, but it is still the best country in the world.
 
I have no interest in the political views of NFL players. If the politics become more of a focus than the game, I will not watch. If the networks would focus on football, this could solve the whole problem.
 
The NFL is frankly as bad as the NBA with spoiled rich brats acting like a pack of jackasses. I am so sick of politics in everything in life. I turned off the NBA and never looked back, and I do not think I will miss the NFL one bit.