New study shows racial divide in NFL National Anthem protest support

New research shows there is a significant racial divide in young adults who choose to support the actions of the players involved in the recent NFL National Anthem protests, as shown in a study published in the journal Deviant Behavior.

Evidence from the new study shows that black respondents were much more likely than non-black respondents to support the NFL players who engage in any type of anthem protests, including kneeling down on one knee, standing up and raising a fist in the air, or sitting down during the national anthem.

Specifically, 90.2% of black respondents agreed with protest kneeling (compared to 37.7% of non-black respondents), 87.8% of black respondents agreed with a protest fist in the air (compared to 31.8% of non-black respondents) and 73.1% of black respondents agreed with protest sitting (compared to 21.6% of non-black respondents).

Furthermore, the evidence collected showed that 100% of black respondents believed that players who protest should not be disciplined by the NFL or team owners in any way, compared to only one quarter (24.8%) of non-black respondents who share the same viewpoint.

Author and Professor of Criminology Dr. Alex R. Piquero from the University of Texas at Dallas commented, “Protests are often controversial and divisive, and in this case the division across racial lines could not be clearer. Black survey respondents perceive that these protests are appropriate and NFL players believe that they are calling attention to significant social issues. Regardless of one’s own view about the extent to which the playing field is an appropriate place for such protests, it remains to be seen if positive social change ensues for the issues being highlighted by the players.”

Researchers at Ball State University and the University of Texas at Dallas obtained the data used in the study from a sample of 299 young adults from a large Midwestern university, who voluntarily chose to take part in the survey. Of the 299 respondents, the mean age was 18.7 years and around three-quarter (77.6%) were white. Of the remaining percentages, 13.9% were African American, 6.1% were Hispanic, and 2.4% reported themselves as other race/ethnicity. Due to the fact the protests occurring in the NFL have been reported to be geared toward raising awareness concerning racial oppression and police brutality against minorities, the most critical measure is the race of the respondents.

The recent NFL National Anthem protests have proved highly controversial, and this study brings evidence to the suspected racial division caused as a result, specifically in young adults.  The researchers advise however that, in order to fully gain a deeper understanding, future studies would be beneficial to examine how perceptions of anthem protests vary in an international context.