MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The NFL’s blockbuster Super Bowl week is underway.

It’s the end of a tumultuous and unusual football season, dominated by controversy over athletes kneeling during the national anthem.

But those protests before games are not about what President Donald Trump claims.

These are the facts:

No, Take A Knee is not about the military.

No, Take A Knee is not about disrespecting the American flag.

Take A Knee is about NFL players protesting police killings of black men, including in Minnesota.

A Washington Post study tallied 987 people killed by officers in 2017, including:

  • 457 White people.
  • 223 Black people.
  • 179 Hispanic people.

People of color killed at a higher rate.

A detailed study of 2017 police killings called “Mapping Police Violence” reports:

  • Black people were three times more likely to be killed by police as white people.
  • More likely to be unarmed.
  • And less likely to be threatening someone when killed.

Enter President Trump.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now,'” Trump said. “Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!”

The president says NFL owners should fire players who kneel, calling it an attack on the national anthem and the flag.

America is split, and divided by race.

A PBS Marist Poll finds 48 percent of Americans believe the protests are respectful. Forty-six percent say they are disrespectful.

And CBS reports 65 percent of white people disapprove of Take A Knee, while 74 percent of black people approve.

American sports were racist for years — race and politics colliding with Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, the Olympics and now Colin Kaepernick.

There’s little evidence to show Take A Knee caused a drop in the NFL’s TV ratings like the president claimed.

2017 ratings dropped 9.7 percent from 2016. But ratings sank across the board, and football is still the hottest show on TV. The NFL had 37 of the top 50 programs on TV, with Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football being the most-watched television programs of the year.

That’s Reality Check.

Here are some of the sources that we used for this Reality Check:

Police Killings Database 2017

PBS-Marist Poll

538.com: How Do Americans Feel About NFL Protests?

Mapping Police Violence 2017

SI.com: NFL Ratings Down About 10%

Statista.com: NFL Attendance 2006-2017 

2017 NFL Football Attendance – National Football League – ESPN

Tackling Fake Football Stories – FactCheck.org

Pres Trump Claims “Take A Knee” Damaging Attendance

History of National Anthem & Sports

The NFL and the First Amendment: A Guide to the Debate

Pat Kessler

Comments (3)
  1. Fake reality check.. No evidence higher rate of unjustified shootings of black…..Pure and simple disrespecting of veterans who have served ,suffered and died as well as their loved ones….Kessler never served….Hijacking the anthem is disrespectful be it for Black lies Matter or any other cause ….

  2. Mike Savage says:

    You might want to check your reality check, two years ago when Colin Kaepernick started this whole mess there were only a few following him. But this year, after President Trump put his two cents in, the league wanted to show him a lesson. So if you think it is about the blacks getting shot by police you are dead wrong. The veterans that I’ve talked to say about the same thing, we fought for their freedom to do what they want during the National Anthem. But if you think that it is not disrespecting the men and women who served and who are serving now you are dead wrong. We lived through the 60’s and 70’s as soldiers and were spit on because we wore the uniform, and now to have a bunch of overpaid jerks kneel is as disrespectful as you can get far as i’m concerned. You notice that I have never said they couldn’t do it, but as far as I’m concerned it’s disrespecting all military personnel, past and present.