Oklahoma Bar Won't Show Sports If Athletes Kneel During Anthem

Ahead of the start of the 2020 NFL season, the owner of an Oklahoma bar says he will not show any sports in his establishment if athletes kneel during the national anthem.

The owner of the bar says that he finds kneeling disrespectful. The protest action was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick against police brutality and racial discrimination.

Starlight Club owner Ed Burton in Ardmore, a town of an estimated 24,700 people in southern Oaklahoma, admits it could be a damaging business decision, but said patrons wanting to watch the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS or NASCAR will have to frequent another bar.

"I've done this so our customers would know what to expect from us. I feel like it's a very important issue in my opinion," Burton told local news source News9.

"That's disrespectful to our country and to all the men and women that have fought for and died for this country, to give those people the right to protest in whatever way that they want to," he added. "But we also have the right to protest against what they're doing because we feel like that's wrong."

As college football is gearing up to return, the owner said that if his local University of Oklahoma football team takes a knee before games, he won't show their games either.

On what sports his bar will still be showing, Burton said golf, rodeos, hunting, fishing, and "anything where they don't protest by taking a knee and disrespecting the national anthem."

Kaepernick started his kneeling protest in the 2016-17 season. His decision made him a global protest personality, but split public opinion in the U.S. as to whether he was being disrespectful in his protest.

He was not offered a tryout by any of the 32 franchises in the following season, which prompted him to sue NFL owners for colluding to keep him out of the league. He reached a settlement with the NFL in February 2019, but no team has signed him as of yet.

On Tuesday night, Nike Football's official Twitter account posted a tweet, including a black and white picture of Kaepernick, with the caption #bringbackcap.

His kneeling protest extended to a number of athletes, including National Women's Soccer League star Megan Rapinoe. Most recently, in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, WNBA and NBA teams staged a strike and did not play their regular season and playoff games, respectively, in protest.

Kaepernick kneeling
Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline, during the anthem, prior to the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Four years after their initial protest, a bar in Oaklahoma has said it will not show sports when athletes kneel during the national anthem. Michael Zagaris/Getty Images