Donald Trump continued to cause a divide in National Football League fans last week by recommending that NFL make it policy that all players must stand during the national anthem or face losing their rights to play.
Trump has been expressing disgust for the movement in which players take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against African Americans since its beginning which was almost a year ago now. It is not yet clear whether such a policy will be implemented but there has been no shortage of debate over the issue on platforms such as Twitter.
" There is a strong resonance among a large number of fans with an increasingly higher amount of players who have chosen to take part in the movement"
At a recent rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who is ran in a special election last week, Trump said “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Whilst many have taken the President’s side in the conflict, arguing that the players have no right to ‘disrespect’ the nationality that has facilitated their sporting success, and joined a boycott of NFL called for by Trump himself, there remains a strong resonance among a large number of fans with the increasing higher amount of players who have chosen to take part in the movement.
Steven Thrasher, Senior Columnist at the Guardian US tweeted on Saturday: “You MUST stand for a national anthem & the flag or risk losing your job... Is this the political freedom they were hoping for?”
He is certainly not the only person who has highlighted the fact that Trump’s stance is seemingly a contradiction to the first amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and expression.
Former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the movement and has been out of work since March this year as a result funds a campaign called “Know Your Rights Camp” which aims to raise awareness on self-empowerment and interacting with law enforcement.
On Sunday Vice President and former governor of Indiana Mike Pence Walked out of the match between Indianopolis Colts and San Francisco after several San Francisco players knelt for the national anthem.
He tweeted: “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” Despite this however, a significant number of military veterans are among those who support Kaepernick’s campaign.
The walkout was met with both support and scepticism on Twitter with some fans expressing outrage and the suggestion that the whole thing was a pre-planned publicity stunt which was abusive of the taxpayer’s money.
National Football League spokesman Joe Lockhart told CNN that “the league had no comment on the vice president’s actions.”