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take a knee

Poll: Most Americans think NFL players kneeling isn't unpatriotic

Take a seat, America — or perhaps a knee.

Even though President Trump reignited the ever-flickering debate over kneeling in protest during the national anthem earlier this week with his high-profile spat with the Philadelphia Eagles, it turns out that most Americans disagree with the commander in chief. A poll released by Quinnipiac University on Thursday found that a majority of American voters believe that kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" is hardly unpatriotic.

The poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe professional athletes have the constitutional right to protest on the field. Fifty-eight percent of voters said that kneeling is not unpatriotic, while just 35 percent believed the gesture was sacrilege.

Still, 51 percent of respondents said they do support the NFL's decision to instate a new policy that requires players to stand during the national anthem or otherwise remain in the locker room. Under the new rules, if players take a knee during the "Star-Spangled Banner," their teams will be fined. Trump, who has been putting pressure on the NFL for over a year over the anthem dispute, believes staying in the locker room is just as bad as kneeling.

There was a clear divide between Republicans and Democrats who participated in the poll, with 70 percent of Republicans calling the protests unpatriotic and just 11 percent of Democrats agreeing. Athletes have been kneeling in protest since 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem as a means of protesting inequality and police brutality in the U.S

The poll surveyed 1,223 self-identified registered voters over the phone from May 31-June 5. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points. See more results here.