During his lengthy and freewheeling speech at a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, President Donald Trump suggested that football players who “disrespect the American flag” as Colin Kaepernick used to do, should be fired, using the kind of salty language that he is known for. The line brought immediate applauds from the audience and yelps of outrage from some of the players and their supporters. However, the president is on to something where an issue that benefits him is concerned.

Will anti-American protests wreck professional football?

More than one analyst has noted a marked drop-off in attendance at professional football games and a decline in the ratings.

The singular reason for that phenomenon is that audiences go to the game or settle onto a couch in front of the television to watch teams of sizable men try to move a football up and down the field while hitting and tackling one another. They do not pay to see well-paid professional athletes take a knee during the national anthem. The spectacle is off-putting and does not convey the message that the players doubtlessly are trying to send. They claim that they are protesting the mistreatment of African Americans in the United States. What the vast majority of the football-watching public is seeing is disrespect and hatred for the United States.

Protest on your own time

Trump knows that the football team owners are in a bind.

Many of their players are wrecking their bottom line by misbehaving during the national anthem. However, one does not get rid of someone who nevertheless performs on the field lightly. Letting Kaepernick go when his contract had expired was a no-brainer. He was being obnoxious and was not playing very well. He cannot find a new team because he is past his prime and no other franchise wants to put up with the drama.

What happens now?

The players have a decision to make. Do they continue to make their little displays and drive away fans or do they find ways to assuage their social justice impulses in a more productive manner? The former course is likely to accelerate the decline of professional football as a favorite American sport, placing the hefty salaries the players enjoy at considerable risk.

Social justice posturing will get to be less amusing when one has to trade in that sports car for a second-hand sedan and move out of that mansion and go back to the old neighborhood that a career in professional sports provided a ticket out of.