The president of the Baltimore Ravens sent a letter to fans acknowledging that national anthem protests hurt ticket sales.
In his letter, Ravens President Dick Cass pled with fans to stick with the team while admitting that an unusually large amount of people are staying away from games this season.
“We had the poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the National Anthem. That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you,” said Cass in the letter, obtained by the Baltimore Sun.
Before the national anthem, the Ravens took a knee.
Fans booed. pic.twitter.com/yfLecHZYTr
— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 1, 2017
Cass mentioned the particular incident where Ravens players kneeled or locked arms during the U.S. national anthem at the London game in September. He points to that incident as a source of the increasing number of no-shows in the stands at games.
The letter also mentions the Ravens potential playoff appearance, and how the team needed the support of its fans.
The Ravens are close to a wild card playoff appearance with one more game left in the season. They face the Bengals on December 31.
“We don’t take your support for granted, and we know that we must continue to earn your respect and investment in us. We are committed to putting the best possible team on the field and providing an outstanding gameday experience for you. That commitment requires us to continue to make significant investments in our facilities,” adds Cass near the letter’s end.
Cass then mentions $45 million going into renovations for the Under Armour Performance Center and $120 million for M&T Bank Stadium.
Although the letter seems to be written as encouragement for fans to return to their seats, Cass doesn’t specifically ask for any such action. Cass also doesn’t give a clear opinion on the anthem protests that he admits have turned fans away.
The anthem protests have been an ongoing issue since 2016, compounded by players, like those on the Ravens, that exported the anthem protests overseas. In some cases, American players are protesting during the U.S. anthem and standing during the anthems of other countries, like three Miami Dolphins players who took a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” but rose for “God Save the Queen,” BBC reported.
In November, Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders sat for the U.S. national anthem but stood for the Mexican anthem at a game in Mexico City. The move prompted a tweet of dissatisfaction from the president.
Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017