History and Social Studies, Sports

Study: Young adults divided along racial lines on NFL player protests

Special to Mastery Academics

American young adults are divided along racial lines when it comes protests from NFL players, says a study from Ball State University and the University of Texas at Dallas.

According to press release from Ball State, the study found that African-American respondents were more likely than other ethnic groups to agree with several forms of protests, including kneeling, sitting and fist-raising during the national anthem, while being less likely to support punishment of the players by either the NFL or team owners.

Jonathan Intravia, a criminal justice and criminology professor at Ball State University co-authored the study with Alex Piquero and Nicole Leeper Piquero of the University of Texas at Dallas.

“The freedom to engage in civil protests has been a defining feature of the Americantexans landscape for nearly a century,” Intravia said. “In this study, we were interested in examining how respondents’ race, among other characteristics, influenced attitudes directed toward protesting behaviors and punishment for those who participate in protesting.”

“The Racial Divide Surrounding United States of America National Anthem Protests in the National Football League” surveyed 299 undergraduate students in September. The study was published online in the academic journal Deviant Behavior. The research team believes the study is the first empirical work to examine different types of anthem protests.

The demographics of the sample were 41 percent male, 77.6 percent white, 13.9 percent African-American and 6.1 percent Hispanic. The mean age was 18.7 years old.

The study found approval for various protests:

  • Kneeling — 90.2 percent of African-Americans approved compared to 37.7 percent of other groups.
  • Fist in the air — 87.8 percent African-Americans approved compared to 31.8 of other groups.
  • Sitting — 73.1 percent African-Americans approved compared to 21.6 percent of other groups.

Regarding punishment, 100 percent of African-Americans disapproved of owners punishing protesting players compared to 28.8 percent of other ethnic groups.

The study also found older respondents were less likely to approve of NFL punishment while more conservative respondents were more supportive of NFL punishment.

Researchers examined the impact of opinions by President Trump, who has repeatedly tweeted his objections to the NFL players’ protest.

The study found respondents who agreed with Trump’s tweet were less supportive of protests and more supportive of punishment.

Intravia believes more studies should be conducted.

“It would be interesting to see whether attitudes directed at protesting would vary in other mainstream sports, such as basketball, hockey, baseball, golf and auto racing.  Also, it would be fascinating to understand how mass media influences respondents’ attitudes toward protesting and punishment.

Main photo: Members of the Houston Texans kneel during the playing of the National Anthem.

 

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