NFL owners in the USA have approved a new national policy will require players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field of play, but the new policy will allow players to remain in the dressing rooms if they don’t want to take part in the pre-match rituals.
The policy which was approved on Wednesday subjects team to fines if players and or other team personnel don’t show respect to the national anthem. This means that if someone sits or kneels during the anthem a fine will incur for the club, this is somewhat a topical debate as over the last few years I have seen hundreds of players kneeling or sitting in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. So, this rule will turn a lot of heads I am pretty sure.
The Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell has said in the past hours regarding the new policy and he told EPSN ‘’We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” “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. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.” All 32 NFL sides approved the policy which will now be a part of the games operations manual, the NFL Players Association also said in a statement that it will review the policy and “challenge any aspect”. San Francisco’s 49er’s abstained from voting but Jed York never mentioned that he opposed the new policy or not. He also didn’t reveal whether any other team abstained. Some players have also come out and spoke about the new policy, Cleveland Browns quarter back Tyrod Taylor ESPN ‘’To make a decision that strong, you would hope that the players have input on it, I think the main thing out of all of it is that each ballclub is having open communication with the players and ownership about the issues that are going on in the community and trying to change it.”
Looking back the previous policy that was in place you can see why people wanted it changed. The old polite previous policy required players to be on the field for the anthem but said only that they “should” stand. However, the NFL hierarchy obviously felt it had be changed after San Francisco 49er quarter back Colin Kaepernick began kneeling to the national anthem in 2016, however there was no rule to prevent it at the time. The movement drew increasing criticism from President Donald Trump, as well as many fans, who believed it was a sign of disrespect toward the flag and country, so you can see why they looked to bring in a policy around it today. However, some owner had been divided on how to extricate the league from that criticism. Some owners, including the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair for instance wanted all players to stand while the anthem was played, other owners like New York Jet’s owner Chris Johnson wanted to avoid any appearance of muzzling players for instance.
It remains to be seen whether some players will protest and whether the NFL Player Association will be happy, but I am sure we will find out in due course, as of now the rule has been passed and the policy will be in place for match days. It remains to be seen also if players will abide by the policy.