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Is the NFL's New Policy 'That All Players Must Stand For The National Anthem, 'Strictly Out of Fear?

Updated: Sep 17, 2018

Is the NFL policy about standing for the National Anthem about fear, money, politics, power or all of the above?


This week, the NFL decided that all NFL players would need to stand during the playing of our National Anthem. This policy would apply starting the '18 season and for those players who didn't want to stand could remain in the locker room. This sparked many articles and debate about this new policy. Some articles had to do with lack of patriotism by not standing, some fans were upset that these players were disrespecting the military by kneeling and a slew of other debates occurred. Other articles supported the protests, that the players had a right to kneel to bring light to high police brutality among African-Americans and social injustice in these com


Why is the NFL now banning kneeling during the National Anthem? Do they feel pressured by our current President, who is quick to Twitter and call the kneelers sons of a bitch? Do they feel how the POTUS will characterize the NFL Commissioner and owners for not doing anything? When he responds, most likely he'll be speaking to his base.


Perhaps the NFL is afraid of declining viewership? With much negative press last season when several players from many teams regularly kneeled or held their fist in the air to protest racial injustice? If viewing declined by 5-10% in 2017, did the NFL feel pressure from the owners and many fans to implement this new policy? Hoping this new rule, which is cracking down on black player protests, will bring back fans and lost revenue to the league and owners.


I read that years ago NFL players typically remained in the locker room until the National Anthem had played but this changed as the relationship between the Department of Defense and the NFL developed. Military flyovers became more common, especially during special events and honoring current and past military personnel during pre-game events. Not to mention, the many ads for joining the Navy, Marines, and the Army. Needless to say, the players were brought in as part of the

military recruiting efforts and from a demographic perspective, what a target audience! Is it fear that the players were showing too much protest, something the defense department did not like and with their cozy arrangement with the NFL, the NFL felt compelled to do something.


Some say NFL players are employees of each of the teams and as employees, do not have the right to protest during work time. It's a plausible argument; however, players are risking their financial future by protesting during the anthem. There's a risk they could be cut from a roster and not earn any more money playing professionally. Is it fear that the owners are afraid the players are trying to gain more power in the owner-player arrangement? They are not allowed to protest based on the collected bargaining agreement, which the players are challenging by doing so. Are the owners afraid the players are trying to gain too much power through another channel besides something collectively bargained?


Let's follow the money with this argument. Is the NFL fearful of our POTUS? Are they fearful he'll call the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell impotent for not fining or firing these players who protest during the National Anthem? Perhaps the NFL is worried about their relationship with the Defense Department, afraid that this ongoing protest trend may eventually hurt this revenue stream? When NFL owners and the commissioner get together and see declining viewership, there could be a sense of urgency to do something, even if the declining viewership phenomenon is complicated. Some might also say the players are trying to gain more advantage apart from what was collectively bargained and the owners want to put them in their place.


Whatever the reason(s), it all boils down to fear of losing power and especially, money.