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Reality Check: What Is 'Take A Knee' Really About?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The NFL's blockbuster Super Bowl week is underway.

It's the end of a tumultuous and unusual football season, dominated by controversy over athletes kneeling during the national anthem.

But those protests before games are not about what President Donald Trump claims.

These are the facts:

No, Take A Knee is not about the military.

No, Take A Knee is not about disrespecting the American flag.

Take A Knee is about NFL players protesting police killings of black men, including in Minnesota.

A Washington Post study tallied 987 people killed by officers in 2017, including:

  • 457 White people.
  • 223 Black people.
  • 179 Hispanic people.

People of color killed at a higher rate.

A detailed study of 2017 police killings called "Mapping Police Violence" reports:

  • Black people were three times more likely to be killed by police as white people.
  • More likely to be unarmed.
  • And less likely to be threatening someone when killed.

Enter President Trump.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now,'" Trump said. "Out! He's fired. He's fired!"

The president says NFL owners should fire players who kneel, calling it an attack on the national anthem and the flag.

America is split, and divided by race.

A PBS Marist Poll finds 48 percent of Americans believe the protests are respectful. Forty-six percent say they are disrespectful.

And CBS reports 65 percent of white people disapprove of Take A Knee, while 74 percent of black people approve.

American sports were racist for years -- race and politics colliding with Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, the Olympics and now Colin Kaepernick.

There's little evidence to show Take A Knee caused a drop in the NFL's TV ratings like the president claimed.

2017 ratings dropped 9.7 percent from 2016. But ratings sank across the board, and football is still the hottest show on TV. The NFL had 37 of the top 50 programs on TV, with Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football being the most-watched television programs of the year.

That's Reality Check.

Here are some of the sources that we used for this Reality Check:

Police Killings Database 2017

PBS-Marist Poll How Do Americans Feel About NFL Protests?

Mapping Police Violence 2017 NFL Ratings Down About 10% NFL Attendance 2006-2017 

2017 NFL Football Attendance - National Football League - ESPN

Tackling Fake Football Stories -

Pres Trump Claims "Take A Knee" Damaging Attendance

History of National Anthem & Sports

The NFL and the First Amendment: A Guide to the Debate

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