Polling Place: Here’s where voters stand on athletes kneeling during the national anthem

Will we see baseball, basketball and hockey players take knees in support of Black Lives Matter inside mostly empty stadiums and arenas? And what will be the public reaction to it?

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FILE - In this June 27, 2020, file phohto, Chicago Red Stars’ Julie Ertz, second from left, holds Casey Short, center, while other players for the team kneel during the national anthem before an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match against the Washington Spirit at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. The National Women’s Soccer League revised its anthem policy after most players knelt during the anthem before season-opening games last weekend at the Challenge Cup. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File) ORG XMIT: NY158

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With major league baseball set to resume play July 23, the NBA July 30 and the NHL Aug. 1, will there be an uptick in so-called anthem protests? In support of Black Lives Matter or for any other reasons, will we see baseball, basketball and hockey players take knees as the national anthem blares inside mostly empty stadiums and arenas?

And what will be the public reaction to it?

In soccer alone, there have been such acts of protest in men’s and women’s professional leagues in the U.S., England and elsewhere. A table-setter for the higher-profile leagues in this country? If and when football arrives, players throughout the NFL and the college game undoubtedly will take knees; football players have led sports’ part in this movement from the start.

In this week’s “Polling Place” — your home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter — we asked if kneeling during the national anthem is, essentially, good or bad. The voting speaks loudly.

As the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, among other teams and schools at all levels, reconsider their names and logos, we also asked what the Blackhawks should do about theirs. Finally, we asked if the sports world has gotten too political.

“Have polls gotten dumber?” @randosoxfan commented.

These questions aren’t easy for everybody.

“I’d prefer a third option to these questions,” @tunahaf wrote. “The answers are worded to be extreme one way or the other.”

It’s a fair question, though playing the middle doesn’t seem to help settle any issues of the day.

On to the polls:

Poll No. 1: I see kneeling during the national anthem as:

Upshot: The Colin Kaepernick camp wins big here. No doubt, the political football has moved dramatically since protests swept the land in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others. There seems to be less need than there used to be for nuance to explain that “knees,” as those who take them keep explaining, aren’t about the flag at all.

Poll No. 2: Do you hope to see the Blackhawks someday change their Native American name and logo?

Upshot: “I would only love the team more for changing it,” @mflomenhoft wrote. “Actions mean everything these days; words are not enough.” But she is in the minority here. The Hawks have made it clear they won’t be changing anything any time soon, and respondents to this poll agree with that thinking.

Poll No. 3: Have sports gotten too political?

Upshot: The “stick to sports” crowd loses its voice a little more all the time, which only makes sense. The country is more outspoken than ever, some would argue, and why would athletes (or sports journalists) be represented less within this broad stroke than everyone else?

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