Gov. Doug Ducey added his voice Tuesday to those of politicians like President Trump in criticizing athletes who “take a knee” during the Star-Spangled Banner.
“I think that during the national anthem you should stand up, pay respect and reflect over those that have sacrificed for this country,” the governor said. “I don’t think the anthem is a time for activism.”
The comments come as what started as a lone protest by Colin Kaepernick as a protests against racial injustice has spread to other National Football League players.
It has only accelerated since the president’s own attacks on those who kneel during the anthem, suggesting they be suspended or fired. And Trump has doubled down, saying that team owners who see a player kneeling should say they want to “get that son of a bitch off the field right now.”
The result has been teams like the Dallas Cowboys, prior to Monday’s night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, kneeling ahead of the anthem and then standing arm-in-arm in a show of solidarity following the president’s comments.
By contrast, the Cardinals players, coaches and owner Michael Bidwill only linked arms.
“I was happy to see the Arizona Cardinals stood during this,” the governor said. “That’s what I think the anthem’s purpose is for.”
Ducey did not dispute that there are many black players — and many individuals of all races — who believe that there is racism in the country. But he said kneeling during the anthem is not the way to draw attention to the issue.
“I think there is a lot of attention on those subjects already,” the governor said.
“I think many of these athletes have a tremendous platform and of course they have a First Amendment right in which they can use that platform,” he continued. “But I don’t think the playing of a national anthem, our national anthem, before these sporting events is the proper venue.”
Still, Ducey conceded, “I know there are differing opinions.”