Players taking a knee hurting the NFL | Brunell

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Portland, a young woman stepped onto the playing field at the beginning of the University of Montana vs. Portland State football game and started singing our national anthem. She immediately drew a blank on the words and briefly stopped, but as she started apologizing, the fans spontaneously took up the singing.

By the time, the Stars Spangled Banner ended everyone in the packed stadium was singing in harmony. After the song ended, they gave her a huge ovation – clapping and cheering. For a moment, they were not Grizzlies nor Vikings, they were all just proud American patriots at traditional college football game.

When the teams ran onto the field, the lead Montana player carried a pole with a large American flag. To be the flag bearer is a great honor.

Contrast that with what has been happening at National Football League games where some players drop to their knees in protest during the national anthem. While the issues they raise merit our attention, their tactic is appalling.

Our country has its share of problems. Look around the world and you will find most nations do – many much worse. The point is there are far more respectful ways to get America’s attention.

Interestingly, the NFL is starting to feel the pinch from the protests. League’s revenues are down, advertisers are getting complaints, and fans are walking away in protests of their own. They now question spending hundreds of dollars on tickets, parking, team gear and stadium food and beverages.

According to USA Today, fans are simply tuning out NFL football. Television ratings are down by double digits this year following an 8 percent drop last season. The number one reason is the flag protests.

The lower ratings are a primary reason the league revenue is taking a $200 million hit, USA Today reported.

Social media is loaded with postings which show fans are burning expensive team jerseys. There is an exception. Sales of Pittsburg Steeler lineman Alejandro Villanueva’s jersey are skyrocketing because he had the courage to leave the locker room and be the lone Steeler standing with his hand over his heart during the Stars Spangled Banner.

Villanueva, a West Point graduate, is an ex-Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan. Many fans are veterans or on active duty or have family in the military. They identify with Villanueva because too many have seen flag draped caskets returning home for burial.

Support for our flag cuts across political party and ideology lines. A recent Remington Research poll released found that 64 percent of Americans believe that “NFL players should stand and be respectful during the national anthem” while just 24 percent disagree.

Further nearly half of liberals and nearly two-thirds of moderates think players should find a more appropriate way to protest even though many Americans were offended by President Donald Trump’s characterization of the NFL protesters.

Through all of the NFL turmoil, American flag sales, which dipped during the recession, are strong.

Eder Flag Manufacturing Co., a company that has been making flags since 1887 in Oak Creek, Wis., had a banner year in 2016. Sales were up 15 percent from 2015.

NFL owners, advertisers and players need to tap into that patriotism and quit thumbing their noses at the flag. While they say they mean no disrespect, their actions say otherwise.

There is no question that America has its faults and treated people unjustly over our past 240 years, but we have made great strides thanks to visionary leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King.

Players need to stand up and use their influence to make positive changes.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.

More in Opinion

From early indications, Gov. Jay Inslee may be making a run at the presidency in 2020. REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Is Inslee about to prep for presidential run?

Can a little known Thoroughbred from the Pacific Northwest capture the 2020… Continue reading

Cost, availability of health care poses a primary concern | Brunell

When Congress convenes next year, lawmakers must focus on the cost and… Continue reading

Vote ‘yes’ for small business and #ShopSmall on Saturday

Your spending dollars count for local merchants

‘Logical fallacies’ help each of us defend our arguments

What are logical fallacies? Ross Weisman’s article, “Is Your Reasoning Sound? A… Continue reading

Plenty at stake in the Palouse

Huskies, Cougars play for Pac-12 title game spot, major bowl and state bragging rights

Costs matter in hiring | Brunell

While both sides argue the merits of Seattle’s escalating minimum wage, there… Continue reading

Trump helped erase voter complacency

Young voters turned out in massive numbers

Reporter cartoon, Frank Shiers
From guns to climate, declaring election’s winners and losers

A surge in voter interest, a swelling in the ranks of Democratic… Continue reading

Cam-pains: Enough is enough

Don’t forget to vote by Tuesday, Nov. 6

City’s proposed B&O tax hike will hurt business, economy

We need to determine what is really a priority, what the community is willing to pay for in city services

Richard Elfers
‘Art of the Deal’ still key to understanding Trump

The book gave me a deeper understanding of President Trump and his unique style of leadership.