NFL Caves On National Anthem

Players, teams face fines for kneeling, sitting during anthem …


U.S. president Donald Trump may be a bust when it comes to battling the Washington D.C. swamp on spending, but he’s 1-0 against the National Football League (NFL) in America’s ongoing culture wars.

This week, the NFL announced it would be imposing a new rule requiring “players and league personnel on the sideline to stand” during the playing of the national anthem.  The rule permits players and personnel “to remain in the locker room if they don’t want to stand,” but they are no longer allowed to kneel or sit during the anthem.

Teams and players who violate the new rule will be subject to fines.

“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,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.”

Some players – like defensive back Malcolm Jenkins of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles – weren’t feeling so collaborative in the aftermath of the league’s announcement, though.

“What NFL owners did today was thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country.” Jenkins said in a statement. “Everyone loses when voices get stifled.”

Some took it even further than that …

“The NFL’s decision to fine teams and blackball players who do not kneel during the national anthem is an obvious display of white supremacy and white privileged thinking,” said Tanya Wallace-Gobern, executive director of the National Black Worker Center Project (NBWCP).

White supremacy?  White privileged thinking?  Really? 

While players and “social justice warriors” lamented the decision, Trump was thrilled.

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem,” Trump said in an interview with Fox & Friends. “The NFL owners did the right thing.”

As for those who still want to kneel, Trump said they not only “shouldn’t play” but “shouldn’t be in the country.”

Damn …

If only he would double-down like that on taxes and spending …

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To be clear: This news site has consistently supported players’ First Amendment rights – and we continued to follow the NFL last season despite Trump’s call for a boycott (and despite the fact our beloved Indianapolis Colts were atrocious).

But we don’t blame fans for tuning out in response to the NFL’s tone-deafness.  That’s their right as marketplace participants.

“This news site has consistently supported the right of players to express themselves as they see fit during the national anthem,” we wrote back in January.  “We’re libertarians, people.  We would never object to anyone exercising their First Amendment freedom in a way that doesn’t impose upon the liberty of others.  Of course, we similarly support those who decide to boycott the league as a result of these protests – or for any other reason they choose.”

And boy did they ever boycott.

NFL viewership plunged 9.7 percent during the regular season according to Nielsen.  An estimated 14.9 million people tuned in to the typical NFL game during the 2017 regular season – compared to 16.5 million who did so in 2016.

Playoff ratings experienced a similar collapse, and Super Bowl LII – another thrilling championship tilt – saw a 7 percent decline in viewership.

No wonder the NFL is caving …

As noted above, the league’s rule change doesn’t matter to us.  We watched NFL games before the kneeling, during the kneeling and will continue to watch them after the kneeling.  It does please us, however, to see the power of the marketplace alive and well in the ongoing American culture wars.

What do you think?  Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …


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