Anthem Protests Faith Football

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before a game last season against the Cowboys in Santa Clara, California.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, File, Associated Press

Any growing business will focus on young consumers who have the money to spend.

They are the future, which can be a scary thought as I look around today.

Polls, surveys, rankings, pie charts, case studies, data streams, Twitter and Facebook help keep us informed on important issues.

That's why the National Football League may be in trouble. Roger Goodell, pay attention.

The saturation level — Sunday, Monday and Thursday games — their length, numerous coaching challenges and replays, issues with performance enhancing drugs and domestic abuse problems among players, has become a turnoff for fans.

With 70 percent of the NFL comprised of African-American players, according to Answers.com and Reference.com, there is a new reason for Goodell to toss and turn at night.

American young adults are divided along racial lines when it comes to protests from NFL players during our national anthem, says a study from Ball State University and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The study found African-American respondents were more likely than other ethnic groups to agree with forms of protests such as kneeling, sitting and fist-raising during the national anthem — while being less likely to support punishment of the players by either the NFL or team owners.

That's no surprise, given the divisive times we live in.

Jonathan Intravia, a criminal justice and criminology professor at Ball State, co-authored "The Racial Divide Surrounding United States of America National Anthem Protests in the National Football League” with Alex Piquero and Nicole Leeper Piquero of the University of Texas at Dallas.

"The freedom to engage in civil protests has been a defining feature of the American landscape for nearly a century,” Intravia wrote. "In this study, we were interested in examining how respondents’ race, among other characteristics, influenced attitudes directed toward protesting behaviors and punishment for those who participate in protesting.”

Their study surveyed 299 undergraduate students in September and was published online in the academic journal Deviant Behavior.

The demographics of the sample were 41 percent male, 77.6 percent white, 13.9 percent African-American and 6.1 percent Hispanic.

The mean age was 18.7 years old.

I assume the larger white demographic is due to the racial makeup of NFL teams. African-American fans would be more sympathetic toward such protests.

Regarding the national anthem before games, the study found approval for these protests:

• Kneeling: 90.2 percent of African-Americans approved compared to 37.7 percent of other groups.

• Fist in the air: 87.8 percent African-Americans approved compared to 31.8 of other groups.

• Sitting: 73.1 percent African-Americans approved compared to 21.6 percent of other groups.

Regarding punishment, the study found 100 percent of African-Americans disapproved of owners punishing protesting players compared to 28.8 percent of other ethnic groups.

Researchers examined the impact of opinions by President Trump, who has repeatedly tweeted his objections to the NFL players’ protest.

The study found respondents who agreed with Trump’s tweets were less supportive of protests and more supportive of punishment.

Intravia believes more studies should be conducted.

"It would be interesting to see whether attitudes directed at protesting would vary in other mainstream sports, such as basketball, hockey, baseball, golf and auto racing," he wrote.

"Also, it would be fascinating to understand how mass media influences respondents’ attitudes toward protesting and punishment.”

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, currently without a team, ignited these protests when he knelt during the anthem in the 2016 preseason while with the San Francisco 49ers.

Nationally, the reaction was mixed among the public and media, in general, blasted Kaepernick.

The 49ers released him this season.

Last October, reporter Jason La Canfora created a stir while appearing on CBS’ "The NFL Today.”

When asked if Kaepernick would kneel in protest if a team finally signed him, La Canfora said: "He’s not planning on kneeling. He’s going to donate all his jersey sales, and he’s planning on standing for the anthem if given the opportunity.”

Soon after, Kaepernick’s activist girlfriend, Nessa Diab, posted a note on social media saying the report was "completely false.”

La Canfora retracted his statement.

Kaepernick re-tweeted the denial.

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” he said.

The anthem protests by NFL players have diminished considerably. For now.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

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