COLUMBIA, S.C. (WATE) – The governor of South Carolina issued a proclamation Tuesday declaring Feb. 4 to be “Stand for the Flag Super Bowl Sunday” in the state.
In the proclamation, Governor Henry McMaster encouraged residents of his state to stand for the national anthem before Super Bowl LII to honor the service and sacrifice of members of the armed forces.
“I ask that all South Carolinians show the world our state’s resolute commitment to supporting our troops by standing for the national anthem wherever you watch the Super Bowl with your loved ones this Sunday,” tweeted McMaster.
READ MORE: Full Coverage of Super Bowl LII
During the last two seasons, the national anthem has been at the center of an intense debate, after some NFL players chose to kneel while the anthem was played to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
The protests began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem before preseason games.
In September, President Donald Trump called for NFL owners to fire players who chose to kneel before the national anthem.
In October, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game because players kneeled before the anthem.
NFL ratings are down about 10 percent across all the league’s broadcast partners, a fact that some attribute to the national anthem protests. However, 33 of the top 50 TV programs since the beginning of the NFL season were NFL games. According to a USA Today report, Sunday Night Football is on pace to be the most-watched primetime show for a record seventh year in a row.
More than 111 million people tuned into last year’s Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. That’s down from 114 million in 2015.
This year, the Philadelphia Eagles and Patriots will square off in Minneapolis.