The National Football League recently announced a new policy that would require all team players who are on the field to stand when the national anthem is played before a football game.
The recent change in policy is part of the league’s effort to end a heated political controversy that has plagued the NFL over the past couple of years. Effective immediately, the team players are no longer allowed to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest, which many have chosen to do in past seasons.
The new policy indicates that NFL players can be disciplined by their teams for participating in such protests, with the league having the power to fine the teams with players who continue to refuse to follow the new policy. Players are allowed, however, to stay in the locker room during the anthem if they choose not to properly participate according to the new rules.
The policy change comes on the heels of widespread anthem protests which began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first decided to kneel during the national anthem in 2016 to protest law enforcement violence against minorities. Since that time, this controversial issue has even made it to the White House, where President Donald Trump blatantly referred to the players that chose to kneel as unpatriotic.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been dealing with the controversy over the active player protests during the national anthem since this time. Kaepernick currently remains unemployed by the NFL, and has filed a grievance accusing team owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. Social justice activists continue to support Kaepernick and those who kneel in protest. In response, Veterans groups organized boycotts and urged fans to stop watching all NFL games until players were reprimanded for their disrespect. The NFL’s ratings took a considerable hit.
Goodell indicated that the player protests created a “false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.” In addition, he said, “The new policy will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”
Goodell also said that the vote at the league’s meeting in Atlanta in May was unanimous, but some teams are still showing resistance to the new rules. San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York made a statement later that said that they had abstained from voting, and indicated that he wanted to meet with his team “to make sure everything we do is about promoting the right types of social justice reform and getting to a better America.” In addition, Christopher Johnson, CEO of the New York Jets, said his team would cover any fines initiated with the new policy because “I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Instead, we will continue to work closely with our players to constructively advance social justice issues that are important to us.”
While the new policy states that each football team can still develop their own working rules for players and team personnel who don’t stand, they must still be consistent with the new principles. This means that any team could choose to pass along fines to players or pay them like Johnson plans to. The guidelines concerning the policy do not give an indication of what is specifically considered to be a sign of disrespect towards the national anthem, nor does it confirm the amount of the fines to be levied.
The controversy continues, though. The NFL Players Association said the players’ union was not consulted when creating the new protocol and said that league officials were hypocrites. “What NFL owners did today was thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country,” said Malcolm Jenkins, head of the Players Coalition. “Everyone loses when voices get stifled.”
President Trump, however, is a huge supporter of the new policy and stands by his Twitter post, “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their national anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”
~ Conservative Zone