Lockport VFW Post 5788 has scored big with its decision to not televise any National Football League games in light of the "taking a knee" controversy, the post commander told the Will County Gazette.
"It has gotten nothing but positive responses," post commander Ernest Errico said "We've been getting phone calls from all kinds of people and from businesses. People have been calling to say, 'It's about time someone did something about this.'"
Those calling the post included representatives from American Legion Post 18 in Lockport and VFW Post 450 in Alsip, who reported their organizations had decided to follow suit, Errico said.
Ernest Errico | Photo courtesy Ernest Errico
"This is a protest and it's growing," Errico said. "This isn't going to go away."
VFW Post 5788 made the call after league team owners came out in support of players taking a knee. That decision was a genuine blow to many of the patrons at VFW Post 5788.
"It's disrespectful," Errico said. "It's disrespectful to us, and it's disrespectful to all veterans."
The ban on games will be lifted "as soon as they show respect for our flag and our anthem," Errico said, arguing that players who don't show that proper respect should be fined and/or fired.
The national controversy started last season when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a protest over racial inequality. Kaepernick isn't playing this season, but other players have taken up his cause by taking a knee.
The situation has climbed out of the football arena. In Chicago, two city police officers were reprimanded after they posed in a photo "taking a knee" beside a community activist. In Florida, a Pasco County first-grader who chose to take a knee during the "Pledge of Allegiance" was told by his teacher "to stand up and to stop it."
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 57 percent of Americans don't think NFL players should be fired if they kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality toward African-Americans.
Errico said he respects the right of NFL players to protest but not during games or the national anthem.
"These players are employees," Errico said. "They are there to entertain us, not to disrespect us."
Enrico noted what he deems more appropriate venues and ways to protest, such as locking arms during more public demonstrations.
"Wear a wrist band or maybe put a sticker on your helmet," he said. "Don't do it during the national anthem, please."
Meanwhile, there's still plenty of entertainment at VFW Post 5788, Errico said.
"We've got baseball, we've got hockey, and we've got NASCAR," he said.