Churchill and the NFL Controversy 

No one could imagine in a million years that Sir Winston Churchill and Westminster College would become involved in the recent NFL controversy over football players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. That is until Westminster was referenced in an article from PoliFact, a national fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on a Truth-O-Meter. 

On October 8, a CBS sports reporter appearing on The NFL Today program told its host that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling during the 2016 season ignited the controversy, wanted to play NFL football again. When asked if Kaepernick would continue to kneel in protest, the sports reporter said no.

After the broadcast, the reporter clarified his response with a tweet saying: “Standing for Anthem wasn’t something that I spoke to Colin about sat. I relayed what had been reported about him standing in the future…” 

In response later that day, Kaepernick tweeted: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. Winston S. Churchill.” 

However, it turned out like many quotes attributed to Sir Winston, the great statesman never uttered those words. 

When Politifact went to a source to validify the accuracy of the quote, they contacted Timothy Riley, the Sandra L. and Monroe Trout Director and Chief Curator of the National Churchill Museum. 

Tim informed them that this and other Churchill quotes are often attributed to Sir Winston and spread online that have no basis in fact.

“The irony is that today such misattributed quotes circle the globe a thousand times before the truth even begins to think about putting on pants,” Tim said.

Actually, some form of this particular quote has been attributed to everyone from Jonathan Swift to Mark Twain, using analogies of everything from pulling up breeches to lacing up boots, and this is certainly not the first false quote to be credited to Churchill.

The British Prime Minister was such a prolific and quotable orator that numerous false quotes often appear with his name.

Probably the most used “fake Churchill quote,” because it sounds so good, is: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Several other examples are: “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” and “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Or sometimes, it is a case of misquoting what Churchill actually said such as the often quoted: “Never, never, never give up!”  What Churchill actually said was: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

So before you start throwing Churchill quotes around, check a reliable source, or do what Politifact did—contact Tim Riley.

To read the entire Politifact article, go here.

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