Networks not showing fans booing kneeling players during anthem

Networks broadcasting NFL games refused to allow camera shots of angry fans booing kneeling players during the National Anthem.  The Sporting News also reports that one behind-the-scenes TV employee said networks told the camera operators not to pan the crowd during the anthem, which would have shown what viewers could easily hear: booing fans.

Networks typically do not televise the national anthem except for the Super Bowl and other special occasions, but they recognized there would be intense viewer interest this past weekend.

Some fans, if they reacted at all, happily clapped and cheered during protests, but others did not, and they angrily let their home teams know it. The audio mics picked up the boos. Yet the TV networks mostly avoided crowd shots Sunday, so there was never a chance for viewers to see fans jeering players.

A segment of Patriots fans in Foxborough, Mass., for example, nearly booed their own players off the field when some Pats sat or kneeled, with some screaming, "Stand up!"

WATCH: Patriots fans boo their team during anthem protest in wake of Trump's comments. More from @arniestapleton

— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) September 24, 2017

One behind-the-scenes TV staffer at another stadium told Sporting News that camera operators were ordered to avoid crowd shots in case they showed fans counterprotesting the protests.

What is happening here is easy to see.  Recent polls have shown that while the public doesn't want teams to fire players who kneel, by wide margins, the public wants the players to stand.  (Of course, the stories about the polls all highlighted the public "disagreeing" with Trump about firing the players and not agreeing with Trump that the players should stand.)

In fact, the whole game is to isolate those who don't agree with the protests.  But anyone who had the sound up during the playing of the anthem last Sunday could hear the outpouring of anger and booing at the players.

It really doesn't matter if the media show angry football fans booing players for kneeling during the anthem.  I think there's a growing realization that this is an issue Trump can't lose on.  The more the media dote on kneeling players, the more resentment of ordinary fans is stoked, and the more likely that marginal fans – the fans the league and TV networks depend on for about one third of their audience – will change channels or not bother to turn the game on at all.

That would be a catastrophe for the league and the networks.  Opposition to the protest will continue to build week by week.  And if teams and the league don't believe that, they are in for a very rude awakening.

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