As TV ratings dwindle, stadiums suffered from low attendance this weekend – as photos of thousands of empty seats make their way around social media, and football season gears up, players choosing to take a knee in protest during the National Anthem shows no sign of abating. Meanwhile, the NFL itself continues to be utterly tone-deaf to the majority of America.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 54% of Americans polled believe kneeling during the National Anthem is inappropriate. Only 44% state they do not mind the kneeling players, according to the Washington Times. The poll revealed that those that no longer choose to follow the NFL as a result of the protest had grown by 10% since the last time the poll was taken in 2014.
Even as much of the mainstream media and sports media alike continue to loudly support protests and players insist that it is their First Amendment right to conduct them, it appears that for all intents and purposes they have failed to convince the rest of America of their message. Many have chosen to simply tune out rather than continue to support what they view as complete disrespect for combat veterans, the fallen and their families.
Those choosing to protest and their supporters insist that the protests are not about any offense to the military but while perhaps they do not intend to do so, that is exactly what they are doing. And, since the NFL’s future depends on selling overpriced ad spots to massive corporations looking for a consistent number of eyeballs, alienating any group of viewers, for whatever reason, is just bad for business.
Consistent with the tone-deaf message of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers management made an epic blunder in their recent choice to display a rather odd looking variation on the American flag. During the pre-game ceremony, Green Bay Packers displayed a made-up version of the American flag during the National Anthem, which was three solid color stripes with the blue stripe containing the stars.
Social media exploded with those fans that still choose to follow the NFL and the Packers with commentary ranging from that “what in the world is that?” to “that’s not my flag!”
The message was loud and clear. That is not the American flag and the Green Bay Packers should get rid of this banner immediately. Perhaps this might be the one occasion where taking a knee during the National Anthem might be acceptable and appropriate?
Pictures of the pregame ritual before the Green Bay Packers-Buffalo Bills matchup on Sunday went viral after several fans at Lambeau Field snapped photos of a red, white and blue flag with modified stars and stripes.
Either way, it seems Green Bay got the message as the team announced directly after the game that it will no longer use the “banner,” according to Fox 11.
“During the National Anthem, the team used a red, white and blue banner. The banner had stars on the blue stripe.
“It’s not American, not American at all,” said Sandy Austin. “There are a lot of people who have quit the NFL because of the pre-game stuff and all that’s going on.”
“In a statement, Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey said the banner was not meant to represent the American flag.
“‘The banner used during Sunday’s pregame ceremony supplemented the three U.S. flags on the roof of the stadium and the flag carried by the color guard on the field. We’ve used such displays from time to time in the past when other pregame elements take up a significant portion of the field. To avoid causing confusion, we will not be using such displays in the future.’”
According to Packers management, the University Of Wisconsin marching band featured approximately 200 members and they claim the marching band took up too much of the field to unveil the entire full American flag.
But that explanation was not flying for many Americans and the Green Bay Packers will no longer use the fictional flag banner. For the most part, the Packers have not chosen to actively participate in the “take the knee” protests during the National Anthem though they did choose to lock arms during one Thursday night game last season.
NFL franchise owners’ support for the “take the knee” protests appear to be very much contingent on ratings and revenues, and many believe they will only continue to tolerate the protests as long as they do not negatively impact the bottom line. Case in point, the almost immediate decision to cease using the pseudo-flag in the representation of America.
NFL owners are nothing if not businessmen, so as Americans continue to hit them in their wallets by voting with their dollars, choosing to tune out or simply not attend the games, nothing is likely to change. Until attendance declines precipitously or it can be determined that the protests have directly impacted the bottom line and/or a corresponding decline in television ratings, they are unlikely to put their foot down.