Back in September, during the same week that Nike debuted its famous Colin Kaepernick ad, a new Trump merchandise item dug into NFL players who kneel for the National Anthem. The item, a "Stand Up for America" football jersey, is available for sale on the Trump presidential campaign's store website.
The red jersey features the number "45" emblazoned on its back and front. The number is presumably an homage to Trump, the country's 45th president. Trump's name is also written across the back of the jersey and the phrase, "Stand Up for America" is sewn across the front. An American flag is also featured on one of the sleeves. The jersey is available in men's and women's size for $99 and, according to the Trump campaign's website, is "proudly made in America."
As Business Insider reported, the "Stand Up for America" jersey became available on the Trump campaign store website on Sept. 7, just days after Nike released its aforementioned Kaepernick ad. Nike's ad, which appears to support the movement Kaepernick initiated largely to encourage NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, has drawn ire from Trump. The president has condemned Nike and NFL players more broadly for kneeling during the anthem, accusing them of disrespecting the American flag and U.S. military troops. The "Stand Up for America" phrase on the newest Trump merchandise items offers not-so-subtle commentary on where the campaign stands on the movement.
Indeed, Lara Trump, Trump's daughter-in-law and a senior adviser for Donald J. Trump for President Inc., seemed to echo these sentiments in an interview about the jersey with the New York Post. In describing why the merchandise item was developed, Lara asserted to the paper that, "our theme originated out of President Trump’s love for the American flag and his fervent belief that Americans should always stand for our National Anthem." The Post also reported that a spokesperson for the Trump campaign indicated that sales of the $99 jersey have been "brisk."
The development of the "Stand Up for America" jersey offers continued evidence that Trump (and those associated with him) is not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to offering commentary on NFL players' decisions to kneel. However, a recent USA Today study indicated that this commentary may have a limited effect on whether or not Americans choose to watch football games.
As the study described, Trump has previously suggested that Americans are choosing to avoid watching NFL games on television because of players' decisions to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. However, after taking an in-depth look at TV viewership and voting patterns, USA Today found that, ultimately, team loyalty and team talent are far more likely to determine whether or not people tune into an NFL game. The paper further reported that it found that politics — and the president's sentiments — actually have little to do with people's football viewing habits. USA Today also pointed out that viewership for Sunday NFL games is actually up so far in 2018.
Overall, the Trump campaign's "Stand Up for America" jersey offers pointed commentary on the NFL movement, falling in line with the president's repeated critiques of the league. However, as USA Today found, Trump's words don't seem to be dissuading too many Americans from watching football, particularly when their teams are playing well.