Stand or Kneel: Americans’ Opinions on Recent Protests by Athletes

The September 2017 AP-NORC Poll of 1,150 adults explores how Americans feel about recent protests during the national anthem at sporting events, President Trump’s response, and other forms of protest.

More than half of Americans disapprove of professional athletes who have refused to stand during the national anthem before games, but more than half also disapprove of President Trump calling for these athletes to be fired, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

While just 31 percent approve of athletes refusing to stand for the anthem compared to 52 percent who disapprove, more approve of athletes refusing invitations for championship teams to meet with President Trump at the White House (45 percent approve vs. 26 percent disapprove) and linking arms in solidarity during the anthem (45 percent approve vs. 29 percent disapprove). Fewer approve than disapprove of athletes refusing to take the field during the anthem (30 percent vs. 47 percent).

The survey shows that Americans are supportive of the anthem being played before sporting events, with 62 percent favoring the practice compared to just 9 percent who oppose it. A slim majority think sports leagues should require that their athletes stand for the anthem (52 percent vs. 47 percent).

While 40 percent of Americans say refusing to stand for the anthem could theoretically be an act of patriotism, more (58 percent) say it can never be. Even fewer (31 percent) say they would ever consider not standing for the anthem to protest something they believe in. About 6 in 10 say not standing for the anthem is disrespectful to the country and its values, the military, the flag, and fellow Americans.

The nationwide poll was conducted September 28-October 2, 2017 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,150 adults, including an oversample of African Americans. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.