Week 1 of the NFL season kicked off in full force on Sunday afternoon and created discussions among football fans. Some teams drew attention by kneeling during the national anthem while others remained in the locker room. Many vocal critics on social media discussed boycotting the NFL due to the demonstrations, but a recent poll shows that the majority of people asked supported the kneeling.
GamblersPick conducted a survey of NFL fans in late August and asked about the upcoming season and the potential demonstrations during the national anthem. The company started the poll with the question, "Do you the support Black Lives Matter movement" and then separated the responses by fanbases. The poll showed that the fans most likely to support BLM also cheer for the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. On the other hand, fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were more likely to oppose BLM.
The poll continued with questions about players kneeling during the national anthem, adding helmet decals supporting BLM and flying the BLM flag next to the American flag at stadiums. Of those polled, 68.6% of fans supported NFL players protesting police brutality while another 14% opposed the move. The remaining percentage didn't lean one way or the other.
The numbers were very similar regarding decals on helmets, with 64.4% of fans showing support. However, the responses changed with the question of flying the BLM flag at stadiums. Only 55.2% of fans supported the move while 24.9% opposed having the flag next to the American flag.
While 88% of fans said in the poll that they would continue watching the games despite the demonstrations, some political figures expressed different viewpoints. President Donald Trump said that he would boycott the NFL if players continue to kneel. He also called the sport "boring as hell" during a recent campaign rally.
Sen. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, said that he wouldn't stop watching the NFL due to the protests. He told TMZ that the players have the right to protest as American citizens. Rubio also explained that football is a place where people with different political opinions can still come together and discuss common interests.
"Look, I think players are Americans," Rubio said to TMZ Sports at Reagan Airport. "They have free speech rights to say whatever they want. At the end of the day, I watch sports because I root for these teams. And in my mind, it's one of the few places — I hope that's still left — where people with different political views can at least for three hours be on the same side."