Whether you agree or disagree with Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest during the national anthem, the NFL has now been forced to reckon with it.
Commissioner Roger Goodell revealed today that the NFL has adopted a policy that forbids players from choosing not to stand during the anthem as approved by the owners. Anyone found not standing during the opening ceremony will earn their team a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and the club will be fined.
Statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pic.twitter.com/1Vn7orTo1R
— NFL (@NFL) May 23, 2018
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. We were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
The NFL Player’s Association weighed in and shared their disagreement with the new policy.
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018
Without getting into the ins and outs of how our country’s freedom works which you are already familiar with, this new policy of forced patriotism and the dismissal of free speech and thought can be described simply as this: un-American. This country of course, was founded on protest. While it’s history is drenched with a legacy of protest.
The policy even does the job of alienating those further away who choose to protest.
As the cliché demands, football is the ultimate team sport. Allowing players and personnel who are making the decision to protest the “choice” to stay in the locker room during the anthem will do nothing but separate and divide people during a divisive issue.
The only thing this policy of sweeping what the NFL considers dissent under the rug repairs is the league’s image. The optics help those who wish to not have the opening ceremonies become a story. Guarantee though, that when a player decides to stay in the locker room, it will lead the day’s and the following morning’s talk show circuits.
Because of this, the NFL can only do so much. They can control the optics to an extent but if players choose to have their voices heard — as long as no physical damage is done — they will make sure it happens.
Instead of taking a proactive and progressive stance in trying to find common ground with their players, the NFL chooses a timid approach that attempts to stamp out the action or silent protest — which may indirectly raise awareness to it and a desire to join in amongst players. The NFL doesn’t get it.
The NFL is a business. It has the right and power to choose how they do business and how their employees conduct themselves. This shouldn’t be a blanket statement when it concerns real world issues that these players obviously feel strongly for.
But if they were wanting this issue to go away, they did their best to keep it in the news. It will continue on into the season and well after.
Again, if the NFL really wanted to have a positive dialogue with their players and this for the issue to move to the rearview mirror, they would not adopt an un-American policy like this.