JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Several players at this week’s Presidents Cup have been asked about the NFL’s national anthem protests and whether there is a place for silent protest in sports.
For the most part, perhaps with the exception of assistant captain Davis Love III, the players haven’t taken a hardened stance one way or the other. U.S. captain Steve Stricker said on Tuesday that his team does not intend to stage any sort of demonstration when the anthem is played by Darius Rucker Thursday.
On Wednesday, one of the most influential voices in golf, Jack Nicklaus, chimed in.
“I suppose everybody has the right to display their First Amendment rights—I don’t think there is any squawk about that. But I think there is a time and a place,” Nicklaus said, speaking to a handful of reporters in the Rolex hospitality tent off the 16th green at Liberty National. I personally don’t think half the fellas that are doing it understand what they are doing, and I don’t know that the sporting field is the right place.”
President Trump stoked the protest debate over the weekend when he tweeted, among other things, that football fans should boycott NFL games unless the league fires or suspends players who refuse to stand for the anthem.
“I know the President got involved in it—wish he hadn’t,” said Nicklaus, who has been a vocal Trump supporter since the election. “I know some of the owners who probably felt one way had to support their players. I personally have always felt like no matter where I went in the world, where I played golf, whenever the national anthem was played for any country, I always stood, took my hat off and respected that anthem and what it was and what it meant to the people that were there.”
Nicklaus said that any time the anthem is played he still gets a chill up and down his spine.
“I think it supports and honors the meaning of people who have given their lives, people who have given their time and effort for our country, and they need to be respected for that,” he said. “Like I said, there’s a time and place; I think they’ll figure that out over time. I don’t know the national anthem is the place to do that, but I can’t fault them, because it’s their right.”