Americans Show Disapproval of Kaepernick’s Actions But Support His Right to Protest

Stillman/Sharkey LogoSouth Orange, NJ, September 22, 2016 — Americans disapprove by nearly 2 to 1 (with many having no opinion) of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s sitdown/kneeldown during the playing of the national anthem in protest of police violence against people of color – but approve of his right to protest by a 4-1 margin, according to a national poll conducted this week by the Seton Hall Sports Poll.

Only 20% feel he should be ordered to stand or dropped from the team if he refuses, but 80% support his right to protest. Of those 80%, 47% say they believe he is wrong for not standing and 33% find the method of protest to be acceptable.

There was a strong effect by age with disapproval rising markedly by age – 25% of 18-29 years olds disapproving, 44% among 30-44, 53% among 45-60 and 60% among those over 60.

The poll was conducted this week among 875 adults on both landlines and cellphones across the nation. (There is a margin of error of +/- 3.4%).

Overall 47% disapprove of Kaepernick’s actions, with 27% approving. 22% had no opinion. However African-Americans were just the opposite, approving his actions by more than 2 to 1.

Only 13% said they would support Kaepernick’s protest by themselves remaining seated if they were present for one of his games.

Overwhelming Support for Playing of Anthem

As to the playing of the anthem itself, the response was far more supportive, with 80% believing it should be played before sporting events and only 8% saying it shouldn’t. Among whites, 82% said it should be played, and among African-Americans, 70% felt it should.

“The act of his protest has been widely publicized but it is surprising that 81% know what the cause is,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Poll, which is sponsored by The Sharkey Institute. “Our poll indicates that people are sensitive to the complexity of the situation and there is clearly no rush to penalize him or drop him.”

On a question of the appropriateness of celebrities to use their fame as a platform to protest in general, 52% said it was appropriate and 39% said it was not.

Rick Gentile was interviewed by Seth Everett for a podcast on the poll’s findings.

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One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership — developing students in mind, heart and spirit — since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S.News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car from New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark.

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About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone September 19-21 among 875 adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute.

Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.
Media: Media: Marty Appel Public Relations (212) 245-1772,; Rick Gentile (917) 881-9489.

The results

1. Are you aware of San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem prior to 49ers football games?

Yes 91%

No 9


2. Do you know what Kaepernick is protesting by his gesture?

Yes or Police violence against people of color 81

No 19


3. How do you feel about the fact that Colin Kaepernick kneels down on the sideline instead of standing during the playing of the anthem? Do you approve, disapprove or have no opinion?

Approve 27

Disapprove 47

No Opinion 22

Don’t know 4


4. Do you feel that Kaepernick should find a different way to make his protest known?

Yes 56

No 32

Don’t know 12


5. Currently the NFL “encourages” standing during the playing of the national anthem but does not require it. Do you think the league should require standing during the anthem?

Yes 42

No 54

Don’t Know 4


6. If you attended a sporting event would you remain seated during the anthem to support Kaepernick’s protest?

Yes 13

No 80

Don’t Know 7


7. Do you think the national anthem should be played before sporting events?

Yes 80

No 8

Don’t know 12


8. Do you think it’s appropriate for players to stage protests while in uniform on the field or on the sidelines?

Yes 33

No 56

Don’t know 11


9. Which of the following statements do you most agree with:

I don’t support Kaepernick’s right to protest and believe he should be ordered to stand or be dropped from the team if he refuses. 20

I support his right to protest but believe he is wrong for not standing for the
anthem. 47

I support his right to protest and I think not standing for the anthem is an acceptable way to do it. 33


10. Do you think it’s appropriate for celebrities to use their fame as a platform to make protests?

Yes 52

No 39

Don’t know 9

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