Sports fans in the Tampa Bay area react to anthem protests

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In professional sports in America, athletes protesting the national anthem is a trend that is becoming more and more popular.

We have seen it in the National Football League. On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence left the game in Indianapolis between the Colts and the 49ers after he witnessed players kneeling on the sidelines. Pence tweeted about the players saying, “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

We are now seeing it in the National Hockey League. On Saturday, Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown, who is one of only 30 African American players in the NHL, chose to join in the protests by raising his right fist during the national anthem. The Tampa Bay Lightning played the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. He told the Tampa Bay Times he wants to support the NFL players and he feels there are issues that “we have to talk about.”

News Channel 8 spoke to local sports fans in the Tampa Bay area about these incidents.

Michael Andrews tells us he is not influenced by the possible actions of Vice President Mike Pence. “I am absolutely fine with it,” says Andrews. “If he does not want anything to do with it that is great. I am still going to watch.”

Dana Reed believes it is “juvenile” on all levels. “We have bigger fish to fry than worrying about someone kneeling on the field.”

In reference to J.T. Brown’s involvement in the protest, the two men had differing views.

Andrews does not have a problem with it and he thinks, if you know the reason behind it, you should not be offended by it either. “It is about social injustice. It is not about them disrespecting the flag or the military.”

Reed calls the protest a “stupid stunt” but he says it is a first amendment right.

“It is [Brown’s] right,” says Reed, “to do what he feels in his heart.”




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