By: Kylan Watson
For a couple of weeks, it has been rumored that the National Football League would create a new policy around observing the playing of the national anthem during pre-game warm-ups, before the end of May. Those rumors turned out to be true, as the NFL owners approved a new rule that says, “Players must stand for the national anthem, if they are on the field.” The owners may have attempted to solve this problem with the new policy. However, it seems like the NFL has taken two-steps back with this new policy. That will take away the first amendment rights of their players.
The playing of the national anthem has become very controversial for the NFL, because of players protesting during it. These protests vary by team, some players raise a fist during it, some take a knee, and some just sit.
These anthem protests started with former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick decided to take a knee before a 2016 pre-season game during the national anthem.
Kaepernick’s form of protest was the subject of a lot of media attention, and even though Kaepernick stated that he did not take a knee to disrespect the flag or the country. Many people did not see it that way and taking a knee during the anthem, became the most controversial form of protest in America for the past two years.
Kaepernick became the subject of a lot of vitriol from a lot of people, especially President Trump who saw the protest as disrespectful to the flag and used his distaste for the protest to further his political power over the NFL.
This resulting negative attention forced the owners to seek a way to remedy the situation, and meetings would take place between the owners and players in the following months. These meetings resulted in the NFL pledging money to support social justice causes.
Even with these meetings it does not seem like the owners really listened to the concerns of their players. By passing this new policy, not only must players stand for the anthem if they come on to the field. They will be fined if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
Football has been the number one sport in America, but its hard to see how the NFL can justify, football being America’s new national past time while having such a regressive policy.
The owners in their haste to solve this problem may have stopped not only their players freedom of speech but set back the status and power of the black athlete for years to come.