The National Football League has announced a new policy for the national anthem. After plenty of discussion about whether players should be required to stand for the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and prohibited from speaking out against systemic racism and social injustice, the NFL has made the decision to suppress the players’ Constitutional right of Freedom of Speech by requiring any player who is on the field to stand and “show respect” for the anthem and the flag.
Players will have the choice to stay in the locker room during the playing of the anthem if they choose, but if they are on the field as it is being played they must stand or their team will be fined.
“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society,” a statement from the league read.
“The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.”
Protests during the national anthem first generated attention in the media when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit and eventually kneel. The protest then grew as many other players around the league joined Kaepernick’s cause and fight for equality.
A full statement from the NFL on its new anthem policy can be seen below.
NFL Statement on new National Anthem policy
The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
2.The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.