People are split over whether it's appropriate for athletes to kneel during the national anthem, but most believe President Trump was wrong to criticize NFL players who take a knee as the "Star-Spangled Banner" plays, according to a new poll.
The poll from CNN, conducted by SSRS, found that 43 percent of people believe athletes who protest by kneeling during the national anthem are doing the right thing to express their political viewpoints. Forty-nine percent disagree, and say athletes are doing the wrong thing.
Forty-nine percent of people surveyed also think professional sports leagues should require athletes to stand for the national anthem, while 47 percent said it shouldn't be required.
President Trump thrust the issue of national anthem protests back into the spotlight when, at a rally in Alabama last week, he said NFL team owners should fire any player who kneels.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said.
Most people surveyed in the poll disagree with the president's criticism of NFL players.
Sixty-percent said Trump did the wrong thing by criticizing players who have kneeled during the national anthem, while 34 percent said the president did the right thing.
When asked whether kneeling or sitting for the "Star-Spangled Banner' is either disrespectful of or a display of the freedoms the national anthem represents, 46 percent said it is disrespectful. Forty-five percent said protesting by not standing demonstrates the freedoms the "Star-Spangled Banner" represents.
Trump's elevation of the issue of national anthem protests over the last week could have consequences for the NFL. Nearly one-quarter of those asked said they plan to boycott NFL games, broadcasts, or products because of players' protests. Sixty-three percent said they had no plans to boycott.
SSRS polled 1,037 adults from Sept. 26 to Sept. 28. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.