Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett has waded into the debate about public protests by athletes, saying anything that occurs in a taxpayer-funded arena that offends taxpayers should not be allowed.
The north Mecklenburg Republican, who’s the board’s vice chair, was responding to this weekend’s silent protests by NFL players in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of players protesting during the national anthem.
“In-as-much as nearly all if not every NFL franchise operates in facilities subsidized by taxpayers, it is unconscionable that any actions taken by players and/or owners not applicable to the core mission of pro sports, namely entertainment and positive economic production, that offends or insults taxpayers should not be allowed,” Puckett said in a release.
“There can be no reasonable argument in favor of taxpayer’s funds … being used to support any enterprise that allows or promotes actions taxpayers find offensive. In short, if you want the freedom to rebuke your government and her agents … then you need to maintain your independence from that government. If you take the money you should lose the independence to insult those who wrote the check.”
The Carolina Panthers play in the privately built Bank of America Stadium. The city did pay for $87.5 million of stadium improvements.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that players who refuse to stand during the anthem should be fired. He also called for fans to boycott the NFL.
Panther Julius Peppers remained in the locker room during Sunday’s national anthem. Several players from the visiting New Orleans Saints sat on the bench. Some team owners have joined arms with their players on the sidelines in a show of solidarity.
Staff writer Steve Harrison contributed.