Louisiana state Rep. Kenny Havard wants to ban millions of dollars in state funding from going to the New Orleans Saints after the team's national anthem protest on Sunday.
Numerous Saints players did not even bother to stand, kneel, lock arms or do anything symbolic of note but simply sat on the sideline as the national anthem played:
Adrian Peterson and other Saints teammates sit in protest during the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/FShDkA2iVK
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 24, 2017
While a number of Saints players sat during the national anthem, it appears all of the Carolina Panthers players stood:
— Ashley Holder (@AshNoelleTV) September 24, 2017
Needless to say, many Saints fans were not happy with the team's decision:
— WXTX Fox54 (@WXTX54) September 25, 2017
“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” Havard said in a written statement obtained by the Times-Picayune.
The Times-Picayune performed an analysis of the Saints' revenue and found that $165 million of the team's $1.5 billion value can be attributed to “public funding, tax breaks and incentives.”
A Forbes analysis found that team owner Tom Benson is projected to haul in an expected “$392 million from state subsidies through 2025.”
Havard explained the timing of the legislative move to ban the Saints from public subsidies, according to WBRZ:
“This is a state-funded sporting event — or subsidized sporting event, not fully by the state, but it is, so we have all the right to defund that. I totally agree with their right to protest and I think it just needs to be done somewhere else. They can do it in the streets, they can do it on Sunday mornings... They can do it wherever they want, but not during our national anthem. I think it's disgraceful.”
State Rep. Valarie Hodges, a Republican, moved for the team's state benefits to be reviewed due in part to the player protest, according to the Times-Picayune.
Federal legislation is under review to move that National Football League teams be banned from receiving public subsidies, reported Kerry Picket of the Daily Caller.
At the federal level, lawmakers want to ban federal funding of taxpayer dollars that go towards professional sports stadiums. A bipartisan Senate bill sponsored by Oklahoma Sen. Jim Lankford and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker aims to do just that. A similar companion measure in the House was put forth last March.
“It should not be put in the context of any kind of bill of punishment,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told the Daily Caller, however. “It's a bill of public policy. We should not be funding arenas on a federal level. There's better investment of tax dollars for leverage economic growth.”