NFL sponsors respond to debate over national anthem

The recent National Football League protests have impacted the company’s sponsors severely, regardless of which side the businesses support. Companies that are supporting the players’ choices are now seeing a direct negative effect on its success.

After many players chose to kneel or stay in the locker room during the national anthem, President Donald J. Trump took to Twitter releasing statements about those who do not stand for the “Star Spangled Banner.”

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the national anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!” Trump tweeted Sept. 23.

Since then, companies and sponsors have been stuck in the middle of the debate, and are still facing backlash for their support for the NFL.

The Ford family owns the Detroit Lions and the naming rights to the Ford Field in Detroit. Ford’s truck is also the official truck of the NFL.

After several Lions players kneeled during the national anthem, the owners of the Lions franchise spoke out in defense of their players’ actions.

“Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation,” said Martha Firestone Ford, owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions and a member of the Ford family, in a statement referring to Trump’s tweets.

“Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions,” Firestone Ford said.

Sheriff Julian Whittington in Louisiana declared the Sheriff’s Office will stop purchasing Ford police vehicles because of Ford’s statement and the company’s choice to continue advertising with the NFL.

ESPN’s viewership is plummeting and companies are facing detrimental boycotts.

The NFL has lost three million viewers per game since its peak of 205 million viewers per game in 2014, even before the protests, according to Forbes.

“As a criminal justice major, if I ever become a part of a police department like that, I would immediately quit,” said Ben Higgins, freshman criminal justice major. “If Ford chooses to support their team and the choices they make, that shouldn’t affect the public.”

About Kylie Voda

Asst. Business & Tech Editor

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