As NFL players continue to protest by kneeling or sitting during the playing of the National Anthem, fans of the sport continue to leave.
One opinion often left out of the protest conversation is an opinion which should matter most: Gold Star families.
A Gold Star family from Colorado attended an NFL game and saw the protests first hand.
Here’s how they responded, per Daily Mail:
A Colorado Gold Star family is protesting the NFL because players are taking knees during the National Anthem.
Glenn Beine, whose stepson, US Marine Cpl David Sonka, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2013, believes that players are ‘disrespecting’ the Military when they kneel.
Beine and his family decided to leave games after the Star Spangled Banner after 32 of the Denver Broncos kneeled ahead of a game against the Buffalo Bills on September 24.
The Beine family says both the anthem and the flag should be highly respected:
Shortly after Sonka’s death in 2013, the family was presented with the flag that was draped over his coffin when it arrived at Dover Air Force Base.
To Beine, the flag is a constant sacrifice for those who have died while protecting the United States.
Since Sonka’s death, Beine said that he and his family have never missed a pre-game national anthem.
After Beine saw players on the field protesting the anthem, he left:
The longtime Broncos fan had tickets to the next home game at Mile High Stadium.
At his seat, Beine set up a small memorial for Sonka, featuring several photos and an American flag.
After the National Anthem was performed, Beiene left the stadium, the Denver Channel reported.
‘And my feeling is, they’re disrespecting David and everybody else that has defended it [what the flag represents], though I think that David and all the veterans would agree that this is one of the reasons they signed up, was to defend America and people’s right to do exactly what the football players are doing,’ he said of his decision.
Many others have discontinued watching the NFL for similar reasons and their ratings are plummeting.
Teams, including the Denver Broncos, have made efforts to earn back fans by saying they will stand for the pre-game ceremony:
A week after Broncos players kneeled during the national anthem, the team issued a statement saying players would ‘stand together’ for its game against the Oakland Raiders.
Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway later said he ‘believes in standing for the flag’.
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.