For two years, the debate has raged in American communities far and wide about appropriate etiquette when our national anthem plays. One man, Colin Kaepernick, forced the uncomfortable conversations in homes, classrooms, and high school fields all over the country. Soon, however, other members of the brotherhood followed suit, determined to get their message of social inequality across. Those messages were warped by political doldrums that twisted protests of social justice into derision of the American flag, and the country as a whole. And after months of hot debates, we finally learned Wednesday (May 23) where the NFL stands as an entity on the issue.
A new national anthem policy
The NFL released a new policy on Wednesday aimed at combating the practice of kneeling during the national anthem. It no longer requires players and other league personnel to come on to the field during the playing of the anthem. Personnel who do come on the field, however, will be required to stand. Players and teams will be subjected to penalties, including fines, for those who violate the policy. Owners were quick to tow the company line. The only team that offered initial resistance was the New York Jets, surprising considering their owner‘s role as an ambassador in the current presidential administration. Most NFL players immediately spoke out or Tweeted out against the new rule. The question remains how many of them will choose to kneel for their convictions going forward.
The NFL makes its choice
While emerges, there‘s an ongoing fight behind the scenes. Kaepernick is currently charging the league with collusion to keep him out of the NFL, which has led to depositions of many top figures. This new policy may actually lend credence to his allegations, since protesting the anthem is now a penalized action. Regardless, this was a decision where the NFL put profits over people. Most players publicly side with their protesting brethren. But the owners seem to , who has riled up his base against those who kneel during the anthem. He‘s called for boycotts and other forceful measures against those who protest peacefully. Now the league falls in line, looking to maintain their bottom line, despite bigger issues demanding their attention.
The issues that sparked protests aren‘t going away. Leagues and public entities around the country largely grasp that. The NFL doesn‘t. That fact will bring a reckoning upon the league if they don‘t wise up to what‘s happening around them soon.