NFL’s New National Anthem Policy 🏈

 Photo: Marco Ugarte / AP

Photo: Marco Ugarte / AP

The decision

After two years of controversy, the NFL updated their policy on etiquette for the national anthem. The new policy requires players to stand if they are on the field during the anthem. Players who do not wish to stand can remain in the locker room until the anthem is over. The Player’s Association has criticized the league for leaving them out of the decision.
 

The Kaepernick timeline – from sitting to kneeling

In 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick garnered media attention for his decision to sit during the national anthem. His decision was rooted in a desire to protest police brutality and the targeting of people of color. Later Kaepernick decided to kneel as a form of protest as it was deemed a more respectful gesture. This ultimately led to Kaepernick being ostracized by all 32 teams in the league.



The right criticizes the NFL’s decision for being “wishy-washy” and a “classic half measure”. The option for players to remain in the locker room should they wish to not stand is seen as a cop-out. The right contends that the NFL’s decision was driven by the declining ratings and negative PR surrounding the controversy. They argue that if the NFL wanted to reach out to their patriotic viewers, standing during the anthem should be the only option.

The left labels the NFL’s decision as a culture war victory for President Trump. They quote the President during a rally where he said, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now”, while demanding consequences for players who chose to kneel during the national anthem. They also criticize the NFL for not consulting the Player’s Association before this decision. The left also insinuates that the decision was driven by potential impacts to a $14 billion business. Money talks.

Will the kneeling stop?

In all likelihood, some players may continue to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest. Whether owners decide to punish players who choose not to follow league policy remains to be seen. As for now, many are criticizing the league’s decision for prolonging the controversy instead of putting an end to it. It’s also interesting to note that both sides here disagree with the NFL’s decision, but for different reasons. Is the NFL hurting itself further by making a decision no one is happy with?

NFL: "We got thi-"


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