Most Americans disapprove of NFL player protests: ESPN poll

More than half of Americans concur with President Trump’s disapproval of ongoing NFL national anthem protests, according to the results of an ESPN poll released Friday.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said they either somewhat or strongly disapproved of national anthem protests by NFL players, while 39% said they approved. The divide was smaller among those who identified themselves as dedicated NFL fans, with 48% saying they approved while 47% disapproved.

The results also suggest that ongoing player protests could impact league viewership, as 40% of respondents said they were less interested in the NFL due to the protests. Meanwhile, 14% said they gained interest in the league because of the issue, while the largest portion, 43%, said it had no impact.

The poll, commissioned by ESPN and conducted by Global Strategy Group, asked more than 1,000 adults around the country a series of questions related to the NFL protest controversy. The survey was conducted from Sept. 26 to 28 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kicked off a wave of protests last season when he knelt during the national anthem to protest social and racial injustice in the United States. The debate drew renewed attention this month after Trump called on NFL owners to fire any player who kneels during the national anthem. In response, more than 200 NFL players engaged in a demonstration during last Sunday’s slate of games.

ESPN’s survey found 58% of respondents disapproved of Trump’s call for a boycott if protests continue, while 36% approved. Separately, 55% said the media is spending too much time on NFL protest coverage, compared to 6% who felt the issue is receiving too little attention.