Chester Legion won’t put NFL on TVs

CHESTER — An area veterans organization has decided to boycott the National Football League following national anthem protests by players.

American Legion Post 121 on Carolina Avenue no longer will display NFL games on its television screens in response NFL players who kneel, pray, bow their heads, sit or not appear on the field instead of standing during the national anthem.

According to Post Commander John Hissam, the issue was brought to the post’s attention and was discussed with members and nonmembers about whether the post should limit its coverage of NFL games or stop showing games entirely.

The issue was discussed during a post meeting held Monday, with the majority voting to stop airing the games indefinitely.

Hissam said the ban will remain in effect until the NFL comes up with a favorable solution to the players’ actions. He noted he and fellow post member Greg Van Dorn, both veterans, believe the actions by the players are disrespectful to past and current military members.

“The expressions that were expressed at the meeting — and I was one of them — I put my life on the line to allow them that right to do that, and I wouldn’t deny them that right, but I will not allow them to throw that in my face every Sunday,” Hissam said. “And I will not watch them until they get it corrected.”

“Like John, I laid my life on the line for this country, and I don’t want to see my flag trashed, or the statement they’re trying to make, trashing it and using it as a political platform,” Van Dorn said.

Players say kneeling or sitting through the anthem is a form of protest against racism and other social issues, but the action has been met with mixed reviews and widespread criticism, notably by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Hissam believes that while it is the players’ right to protest, doing so during the national anthem isn’t the right time to do it.

“The country is the United States of America, and the flag and the national anthem are our symbol and national song,” Hissam said. “We have lots of problems in this country, and that is a political answer they’re trying to get to through sports. Those gentlemen are paid lots of money to play football, not to demonstrate against my country and theirs. If they want to do it, they have the time to do it on their own.”

While the majority of the post’s members agreed to stop airing the games, Hissam said some members were not in favor of the NFL ban.

“We had members that were against it totally, but there were very few compared to large number that was for (the ban), and as in all items run by this Post, it’s done by majority,” Hissam said.

“I can only speak for this post, Post 121, but we overwhelmingly support shutting it off until they straighten it out,” Hissam said.