(CBS News)–President Trump said in a tweet Tuesday he is looking forward to watching sports but suggested he would stop watching a game if he sees a player taking a knee during the national anthem.
“Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!” he tweeted.
Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2020
His tweet came a day after San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler joined several players in kneeling before their victory against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
Kapler said he told the team he wanted to use his platform “to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country,” adding that he also wanted the players to feel safe speaking up, according to The Associated Press.
Kneeling during the national anthem as a way to demonstrate against police brutality and racial injustice began with San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Many professional athletes around the sports world have engaged in the peaceful protests, which have been frequently criticized by Mr. Trump.
The president recently criticized New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who apologized for saying he will “never agree” with players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against police brutality. Brees walked back that belief and received backlash from Mr. Trump, who tweeted that Brees “should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag.”
Brees stood his ground, telling Mr. Trump in an Instagram post that “we need to listen and learn” about racial injustice.
The future of live sports came into question this year as the coronavirus pandemic shut down businesses and postponed events nationwide – especially those with large crowds, like sporting events. Many leagues have been working to figure out how they can play amid the ongoing pandemic.
The Washington running back told the Houston Chronicle in June that players throughout the league are planning to take a knee when the “The Star-Spangled Banner” starts playing.
“Just four years ago, you’re seeing (Colin) Kaepernick taking a knee, and now we’re all getting ready to take a knee together going into this season, without a doubt,” Peterson said.