Even College Students Are Divided About NFL Players Protesting During National Anthem

Nov 24, 2017

This holiday football weekend has a different kind of backdrop this year: the ongoing debate about players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence against African-Americans.

In a new study, UT-Dallas researcher Alex Piquero is trying to gauge how deep the racial divide over this issue is among college students. 

Interview Highlights

On who was surveyed: About 300 young adults in the Midwest. We asked them three questions related to the extent to which they were supportive of NFL players' protests during the national anthem. 

On the overall results of the study: We found that over three-quarters of African-Americans supported all three kinds of protesting (see "Study Results"). Those who were non-African American – mainly white people – disagree with the protesting. What we see here is people self-identifying with a particular cause or particular sets of players. The majority of players are African-American, so there's some sense that this not entirely surprising.

On whether they agreed with President Trump’s views toward protests in professional sports: More conservative respondents were more likely to disagree with the protests, and they were more supportive of punishment. Then, we asked respondents whether or not they agreed with President Trump's initial tweet coming out against the protesting players several months ago. Those respondents who agreed with the president about "firing those players" were more likely to support the punishment and very much unlikely to support the protests. 

Study Results

  • Is kneeling during the national anthem appropriate? 90 percent of black respondents agree/strongly agree; 38 percent of non-black respondents agree/strongly agree.
  • Is raising a fist in the air appropriate? 88 percent of black respondents agree/strongly agree; 32 percent of non-black respondents agree/strongly agree.
  • Is sitting during the national anthem appropriate? 73 percent of black respondents agree/strongly agree; 22 percent of non-black respondents agree/strongly agree.
  • Should the NFL punish players who protest? 100 percent of black respondents disagree/strongly disagree; 25 percent of non-black respondents disagree/strongly disagree.
  • Should NFL owners punish players who protest? 100 percent of black respondents disagree/strongly disagree; 29 percent of non-black respondents disagree/strongly disagree.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

From KERA