The court of public opinion is swinging in favor of NFL players and their right to protest.
Quinnipiac University on Thursday released a poll of over 1,000 U.S. voters nationwide, asking participants whether they approve or disapprove of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem before games.
The results were an even split: 47 percent approved, while 47 percent disapproved and 6 percent didn’t answer, according to the poll.
These numbers represented a shift in voters’ opinion, though: When Quinnipiac asked U.S. voters the same question in November 2017, only 42 percent of participants approved of the protests, while 52 percent disapproved.
These findings suggest Americans are becoming more tolerant of the movement ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began during the 2016 preseason, when he refused to stand during the national anthem to protest social inequality and police brutality in America.
That movement has faced considerable backlash over the last two years — most notably from President Donald Trump — but it appears voters have become more sympathetic to the players’ cause.
In any case, a majority of voters — 67 percent — believe NFL players have the right to protest by kneeling during the anthem, while just 30 percent believe they don’t have that right, according to the poll. The November 2017 poll found nearly identical results: 67 percent to 31 percent.
The poll also asked voters if they approved of Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary advertising campaign. While there was no majority opinion, 49 percent of respondents said they approved of the move, compared to just 37 percent who disapproved.
As long as players keep protesting, as Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson did in Week 1, this will continue to be a hot-button issue — especially if Trump keeps tweeting about it.
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images
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