If this year’s Super Bowl lower television ratings are any indication, the NFL is losing millions of fans, many of whom are against NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of protest. Many HBA students agree with this criticism of the kneeling players, but there is still a disagreement of viewpoints.

“People should be allowed to express what they believe, but national anthem is a time to show respect and protests should be delivered elsewhere,” shared junior Bryson Gonzalez.

This Super Bowl has had the lowest viewer count in 9 years coming in at 103.4 million viewers.

The kneeling represents a protest to a large number of issues, that include but are not limited to the criminal justice system, police brutality, and racism. The backlash from the media, fans and even the United States President Trump are very extreme, leaving the NFL with poor TV ratings and empty stadiums. The NFL has consistently had good ratings, but just as these protests gained media attention, these positive ratings took a turn for the worst. The Super Bowl game took similar losses of around 10 million viewers. The only evident reason for this decline is the player’s protests because the ticket prices, the location of games and teams playing have had no major changes that would cause such a loss.

The original protest began with Colin Kaepernick back in 2016 as a protest of police brutality and grew in popularity throughout 2017 receiving large amounts of media criticism.

Kaepernick explains that he kneels to show respect while remaining in protest, opposed to his original protest of sitting which was seen as disrespectful. Despite his and many other player’s efforts to still show respect, the actions are still being labeled by many, including President Trump as disrespectful to the country.

Trump has been speaking out against these protests for several months.

“The American public is fed up with the disrespect the NFL is paying to our Country, our Flag, and our National Anthem. Weak and out of control” tweeted Trump back in November.

The NFL has not taken any actions against the players and instead gave $90 million to social justice campaigns. Despite this effort, the protests have not stopped and the TV ratings remain low along with the difficulty filling stadiums. The recent dip in Super Bowl viewers could prompt action in the future against the players who protest. On their other hand, even with the loss of millions of fans, the Super Bowl LII still had over 100 million viewers, proving that the vast majority of fans were not bothered by or able to put aside these issues for the game.

These issues aren’t as distant as we think, even here at HBA, 4 students shared their own opinions on these protests, most opposing the protest to some extent but another strongly supporting them.

“These players need to show respect to their country and should not be kneeling during the national anthem,” shared junior Chansen Oshiro-Sakamoto.

On a less extreme but still oppositional side, senior Davin Rausch shared his own thoughts.

“As an American, it is their right to protest, but it is contingent on the opinions of their employers,” believes senior Davin Rausch.

From the other side of the debate Junior Haley Benn strongly supported the players standing up for what they believe in.

“I support the players who kneel in protest for what they believe in, and they should continue until there is justice in this country,” explained junior Haley Benn. “Trump should not be involved in this issue with his twitter account and rather be focusing on solutions to the issues they are protesting.”

“The national anthem represents freedom for our country so we shouldn’t blindly follow it while major social major social justice issues remain,” continued Benn.

This dissension of viewpoints will be seen in any area whether across the United States or at our own school, HBA. People need to decide for themselves whether to put aside their differences or look for a solution to the issue, but until then, without change, the NFL ratings will remain low.