No one knows how to handle NFL protests

TAMPA – NFL fans are torn between their political and sports allegiances after President Donald Trump called on teams to fire players who kneel during the national anthem.

Unsportsmanlike conduct?

Trump tweeted dozens of times about the NFL and its players over the past few weeks. His comments come after several players from multiple teams decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

One of his more controversial comments came when he spoke in Alabama.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: “Get that son of a b—- off the field right now,” said Trump.

Same story, new players

Anthem protests in the NFL are not new, however, the movement has grown since last year. It started with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled to protest police brutality. Now, Kaepernick no longer has a job in the NFL, and several other players have decided to take a knee or lock arms during the national anthem.

Travis Bell, an expert in sports media and professor at the University of South Florida, believes that the anthem protests have recently become a bigger deal because of Trump’s involvements.

“I definitely think that the flashpoint for this bringing it into the mainstream conversation is because of the president’s involvement in it,” said Bell.

What did he call us?

Several players took offense to Trump’s comments, and the following Sunday, players continued to protest. Some teams’ owners joined the players on the field to show solidarity.

Even Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who supported Trump during his presidential campaign, disagreed with Trump’s comments.

Any excuse to burn jerseys

When Lebron James left Cleveland, fans burned their James jerseys. When James left Miami, fans burned their James jerseys (again). When the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas to the Cavaliers, fans burned their Thomas jerseys.

This love for burning jerseys has seemed to spread to the NFL, as many fans have filmed themselves burning jerseys of players who have decided to protest during the anthem. Fans also burned season tickets, hats and other memorabilia. They even went on Twitter and started #BurnTheNFL, which encourages people to no longer support the NFL.

Just play football

People who disagree with the protests often say that sports and politics should remain separate, and that politics are ruining sports. Many others, however, would argue that there is not a clear divide between sports and politics.

“People always want to hold sports as some separate, fun, social entity, and we don’t want to politicize things, and when politics gets involved in the sports arena, it sort of clouds that popular notion that sports is sort of just this untainted space, and clearly it’s not,” said Bell.

Others choose to take a knee

While some fans have been burning their jerseys, others have been applauding the players for taking a stand on what they believe is an important issue. Supporters on Twitter started #TakeAKnee to show solidarity with the players who protest.

NFL short on options

As the NFL remains busy trying to keep its name out of headlines, it has failed to find a solution to either the player’s protests or people’s protest of the NFL. This may be because they do not have many options.

According to Alan Balfour, an expert in employment relations and union-management relations, it is not in the NFL’s best interests to force players to stop protesting, no matter what rights they have or do not have guaranteed in their contracts.

“I doubt that anyone will treat this as a contract issue,” said Balfour.  “It is perceived by everyone–players, owners and fans–as a moral issue. If the contract permits, owners could force players to stand or face discipline.”

Balfour does not believe that will happen.

“Invoking the contract would only polarize matters worse and expand the range of disagreement,” said Balfour.

He does, however, point out that NFL teams are within their rights by not signing Kaepernick, whether those reasons are related to his performance as a football player or not.

“I have always said, back when this was just about Colin Kaepernick that boycotting him as a potential employee was well within the individual rights of every owner and his employability would depend, not on his ability to help a team as a second-string quarterback, but on what he, or anyone, can contribute to attendance, merchandise sales and the TV contract,” said Balfour.” The obvious answer was his contribution is negative.  I can understand why no team or owner wants him–he will hurt the bottom line and, believe me, this is a business.”

Therefore, if any owner refused to sign a player because of his political views, he/she would be well within his/her rights.

Additionally, NFL viewership is down 11 percent from last year, according to Nielsen ratings. Bell points out, however, that this could be for a number of reasons, including the discovery of traumatic brain injuries occurring from playing football. Bell believes it is too early to tell how the protests have affected the NFL’s brand, but that it could negatively impact the NFL’s business in the future.

“I definitely think there’s some potential for fallout, but I don’t think it’s going to be you know, an immediate drop off the cliff,” said Bell.

Americans stand divided

While people have been vocal on social media, what’s trending on Twitter does not always reflect how most Americans feel. CNN and USA Today both conducted polls to find out how the public truly feels about the protests.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This quote is normally attributed to the philosopher Voltaire, but it was actually written by his biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall. It seems that Americans seem to agree with this sentiment. While players may not have the constitutional right to take a knee, most Americans believe that they should not be fired for their beliefs.

Some veterans have echoed this idea as well, and they argue that the reason soldiers fight is to protect democracy. It is not unexpected that people living in a country that touts freedom of speech in its First Amendment disagree with Trump’s comments. Most people would not want to be fired for their political beliefs, though it is not against the law for employers to do so.

Even if the majority cannot agree on kneeling during the anthem, perhaps it is a small victory for Americans to agree on the principle in the Constitution. Or, perhaps this agreement is not a reason to celebrate. Balfour believes that Americans may not be equipped to handle these discussions.

“Thomas Jefferson’s fear of the tyranny of the majority is, I believe, well-founded,” said Balfour. “I don’t observe the current public being very good at thoughtful consideration of disagreement.”

Polls show US divided over Trump’s policies

TAMPA –Donald Trump. For some, this name sparks pride in the United States of America. For others, it sparks shame.

To examine why his name is so divisive, we can look at the dozens of polls taken each week about a variety of important political topics. These topics include health care, taxes, immigration, military and climate change. There is not only a divide between political parties in the U.S., but also between the American people and the president.

Polls can help people understand the nation’s consensus, and they are an important feedback tool for politicians. Additionally, they can help dispel preconceived notions of what different groups of people believe in. The following poll results demonstrate how people’s thoughts about what certain groups believe in may differ from what they truly think.

The only thing that seems certain is that there is a gap between President Trump’s policies and what Americans want.

Trump’s approval rating has consistently slipped since being sworn in, and he has the lowest approval rating of any president in his first year. However, his reactions to the recent hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida have improved his approval rating.

A president usually enjoys a honeymoon period for a few months after he is elected, which boosts his approval rating. This has not been the case for President Trump. This could mean that his approval ratings will only continue to drop.

Even when the American people do agree on a topic, the president is the one who disagrees.

Trump recently moved to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is a program that allows undocumented immigrants under a certain age to stay in America for an extended period of time. This decision, if Congress does not pass a bill to replace DACA, could lead to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants in America. Most Americans, across political parties, believe that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay.

Graphic created by Katie Ebner

This may seem surprising, considering Trump’s winning platform that boasted he would be tough on illegal immigration. While people do want stricter border control, only 37 percent of Republicans believe that undocumented immigrants should be deported.

Earlier this year, Trump reinstated the ban on transgender people serving in the military. While Trump received support for this ban from military officials, polls suggest that the public disagree with him. An overwhelming 68 percent believe that transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.

Over the summer, Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. He believes that doing so will help the American people and save jobs. Climate change is another topic of discussion that divides Americans. Twenty-nine percent of Americans supported withdrawing from the agreement, while 46 percent opposed withdrawing.

While Americans have historically disagreed on these hot-button topics, it is odd that even Republicans disagree with some of Trump’s policies. Of course, his approval rating among Republicans right now is 85 percent, demonstrating that although some members of his party disagree with Trump on certain issues, they still believe he is doing a good job overall.

It can be discouraging for Americans, who may already feel alienated, to see that there is so much division among political parties. Even before political parties, people disagreed, but this election left people feeling more divided than ever. Perhaps this is what George Washington warned us about.

 

USF students rally in support of DACA

TAMPA – Dozens of students showed up at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza Thursday in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, commonly known as DACA.

Jose Flores (left), Stephanie Garza (center) and Michelle Joseph (right) hold signs made for the DACA rally at USF while attendees talk in the background.

In 2012, former President Barack Obama issued an executive order that prevented deportation of children under the age of 16 who immigrated to the United States illegally. While DACA is not a permanent solution for those who are eligible to apply, it gives them more time to work or receive an education in the United States. According to Pew Research Center, an estimated 790,000 unauthorized immigrants have been protected under DACA.

Last week, President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced that the administration will end the program in six months. As of now, no new DACA applications will be considered.

Trump’s presidential campaign focused on decreasing the number of immigrants to the United States, along with deporting those who are not here legally. Almost immediately after being sworn in, Trump began to follow through on his promise to be tough on undocumented immigrants.

Since the DACA announcement, congressional Democrats have been scrambling to make a deal in order to protect DACA immigrants from deportation.

Sign made for the DACA rally at USF.

Many DACA recipients are now in college, and they fear that they may be deported before being able to finish their education. Stephanie Garza, one of the organizers for the on campus DACA rally, explains why Session’s announcement is personal for some USF students.

“We know that here at USF, the estimate is between 70-100 DACA students are part of the USF community,” said Garza.

Several organizations helped plan and support the event, including College Democrats, Mi Familia Vota, For Our Future and UndocUnited. Students like Jose Flores who participated in the event wanted to show the Trump administration that college campuses support DACA students.

For Our Future was one of the many organizations that supported the DACA rally at USF.

“We wanted to show that the community will organize and protect their own, and you know, just basically show that USF opposes the decision,” said Flores. “We hope that if other people follow in our footsteps, or, you know, we all come together, if other universities have their rallies too, together we’ll, you know, amplify our voices and we’ll be heard.”

The issue of immigration hits close to home with many people who attended the event.

“Personally, I know a lot of people who are immigrants, documented, undocumented, and you know, I see how their lives could change if something was passed, and how their lives are different than other people’s because sometimes they don’t have the same opportunities as those people,” said Michelle Joseph, who is with the organization Mi Familia Vota. “So, we’re here to support the passing of the DREAM Act, and that would mean that people would get to live normal lives kind of thing, not worry about whether they’re going to be kicked out of the country kind of thing.”

Different people spoke during the event, some of whom will be directly affected by the elimination of DACA.

“My favorite part was that some people felt empowered enough to go up and speak, even though they were not listed to speak, you know, they were motivated enough to come out and say a few words,” said Flores. “Each person that comes up and speaks up only adds to the slew of voices that are coming up, that are speaking out against this kind of you know, behavior, actions from the administration.”

Students were not afraid to show their disdain for President Trump with their rally signs.

DACA recipients will be in limbo until Congress decides if it is going to instate a new program to help young unauthorized immigrants. Some are trying to renew their DACA before the Oct 5. deadline set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applying for a renewal, however, does not ensure that they will be able to stay in the United States for the remainder of their DACA eligibility if Congress fails to create a new program.

For many, this is frustrating and alarming.

“If you’re not upset, if you’re not enraged, then you’re not paying attention,” said Flores.

Author of “The Selfie Vote” Speaks Out About 2016 Presidential Election

Author and Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson stopped by to talk about polling, millennials, and what could seemingly be labeled the most interesting election yet. Here is her seven second take:

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Second 1: Anderson is a millennial herself, though she is hesitant to admit it. She carefully placed space between her age and ours while she spoke. Anderson never anticipated falling into her current line of work. A graduate thesis and a passion for Washington D.C. put her on the path of polling, political contributing, and a book deal among other endeavors. A strong voice for the millennial generation.

Second 2: As for her take on young voters, they care more than you think. Anderson recalled comments made that millennials are unreachable when it comes to politics. For Anderson these comments do not ring true. Instead she sees 80 million millennials, one force that can reshape an election.

Second 3: So how does one reach these lucrative voters? Anderson does not think that the Democratic party has hit the nail on the head just yet, frustrated with the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton campaign. Anderson referenced her frustration in the article Stop trying to make Chillary Happen. She recalled Clinton’s requests for young voters to “Pokémon Go to the polls” and explain how their student debt made them feel in three emojis or less. Anderson’s advice to Clinton:

“Quit trying so hard,” Anderson said. “Just be yourself.”

Second 4: As for the Republican nominee Donald Trump’s efforts, Anderson considered them to be either non-existent or counterproductive. Though, she did give a nod to Trump for being the more technologically savvy out of the two.

“The medium does not trump the message,” Anderson said. “No pun intended.”

Second 5: So how do the candidates tip the scale and reign in the millennial vote this year? Speak to young voters at the level they are currently at. According to Anderson, this includes understanding their moral lens, distrust of big institutions, adversity to labels and pragmatism.

Second 6: The real question is what does this election come down to? For Anderson, it is numbers and certain states. Trump needs 269 electoral votes to push the decision to the House of Representatives. This is easier said than done according to Anderson’s analysis.

“Trump needs everything to go right in that one narrow path to win,” Anderson said.

Second 7: In the end, Anderson is optimistic that Trump will not win this election cycle.

“Democrats fall in love,” Anderson said. “Republicans fall in line.”

Clinton does not have an easy fight either in Anderson’s eyes.

“Young women are not giving bonus points based on someone’s gender,” Anderson said.

This year’s election is up in the air, causing Anderson’s closing statement to never ring more true:

“Your vote matters.”