A majority of Americans do not believe that the football field is the proper place for political protests, which could spark a branding fiasco by the end of the 2017-2018 season. The controversy began after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized players who knelt during the national anthem to protest treatment of African-Americans.
Overall, 77% of Americans do not think the football field is an appropriate place for political protests, according to data released Wednesday from data-marketing firm Fluent. At 68%, not even "huge football fans" believe it is appropriate.
While football fans tend to align more with the NFL players' protest, the majority of Americans disapprove of them kneeling, according to Jordan Cohen, CMO of data–driven marketing firm Fluent.
Fluent’s NFL online U.S. survey, conducted on September 25, 2017 surveyed 1,666 adults, ages 18 and older found that even those who watch football sometimes -- at 78% -- and those who don't follow football at all -- at 84% -- say the football field isn't the place for political protests.
Only 28% approve of NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem, compared with 44% who disapprove. The disapproval ratings among "huge" football fans, those who watch football sometimes and who don't follow football are higher than for those who approve.
Most Americans, however, disapprove of Trump saying that protesting players should be fired, per Fluent data. Huge football fans are more likely to disagree with Trump's comments suggesting that NFL players who kneel in protest of the national anthem should be fired, at 62%, compared with 26% who do.
Overall, 46% disagree with Trump, 30% agree, and 23% do not have an opinion.
Fluent's study suggests that Americans are not on board with the protest of NFL athletes, similar to findings released in a September opinion poll from Reuters and Ipsos released Tuesday. This study found that 58% of adults said professional athletes should be required to stand during the national anthem at sporting events, but there is increasing support for those athletes who do not.
Some 53% of Americans also do not think it is appropriate for the President to comment on how the NFL and its players should conduct themselves during the national anthem.