An Indiana lawmaker says he is filing legislation to address kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” by players on his state’s National Football League (NFL) franchise.
State Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus) notes that the measure would require the Indianapolis Colts to offer fans refunds if the team’s players kneel for the national anthem at home games.
Smith additionally told The Indy Star that fans who feel disrespected by the controversial protest could then ask for a refund during a game’s first quarter.
“To me when they take a knee during the national anthem, it’s not respecting the national anthem or our country,” he said.
“Our government isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best country in the world and I think we need to be respectful of it,” Smith added.
Smith’s bill would not require the Colts to pay out refunds if players from the visiting team decide to kneel during the anthem.
The Republican also defended the proposal’s legality, arguing that it does not stop a person from performing the move.
“I’m pretty patriotic, and it didn’t sit right with me,” Smith said of seeing a group of Colts players kneel during a game he attended last September.
The NFL’s recurring anthem protests became one of the top stories in professional sports this year after President Trump tackled the topic.
Trump fiercely criticized the practice last September, arguing it is unpatriotic and disrespects the U.S. military.
The president’s remarks prompted scores of NFL players to perform the demonstration, and they also sparked heated national debate over the topic.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest America’s racial injustice and police brutality.
Kaepernick remains a NFL free agent after launching the movement, with supporters claiming the league’s teams have ignored him for his activism.
The protest has since leapt from the NFL and been imitated by multiple professional athletes in other sports who agree with its symbolism.