By Anna Bryson
On a typical Sunday at Shark Tales Waterfront Restaurant on St. Pete Beach, bar patrons are hooting and hollering at television screens while watching NFL football. This Sunday, those same screens were playing “Courage the Cowardly Dog” and sports not involving pigskin or gridirons.
As various NFL players continue protesting racial injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem, Shark Tales owner Craig Munroe has decided to no longer show NFL games at his bar.
Munroe released a statement on the bar’s Facebook page last Monday.
“I will not show another NFL game at Shark Tales until these players stop insulting my country. I 100 percent believe in freedom of speech, but taking a knee during our country’s anthem is not speaking, it’s jumping on a bandwagon that shows no purpose and provides no results except to divide our country even more.”
The original Facebook post has garnered attention with over 800 reactions. According to Munroe, new customers have been coming into the restaurant in support of its NFL boycotting stance.
This Sunday, instead of showing the big game, the restaurant hosted a concert event called “Don’t Take a Knee, Take a Stance Benefit.” Eleven local bands volunteered to play, with southern rock country band Soul Circus Cowboys headlining.
Munroe has been a longtime Patriots fan, but not since their displays of protest.
Many patrons on Sunday voiced the fact that they were there in support of Munroe’s stance on the protest. Mumbles about “crybaby millionaires” could be heard throughout the bar.
Munroe says that the majority of the players taking a knee to raise awareness aren’t actively doing anything in the community to make a difference.
“I don’t agree with a bunch of football players who make millions of dollars getting personally offended because the president called them babies or whatever he called them and kneeling during our anthem,” he said.
According to Munroe, 50 percent of the proceeds from the benefit were donated to urban youth in St. Petersburg.
“I decided to put my money where my mouth is,” Munroe said.
If the players stop kneeling, Munroe will start showing the games again. Until then, he plans to host concert events every Sunday, where he will continue to donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.