The National Football League may allow teams to decide whether to require players to stand for the National Anthem, according to The Washington Post. Is this the right thing to do?
The article says the issue will be discussed at the upcoming league spring meetings in Atlanta, where other options such as leaving the anthem policy unchanged or developing a different compromise for a leaguewide policy requiring players to stand for the anthem if they’re on the sideline, but would be given the option to remain in the locker room. Or the NFL could revert to its pre-2009 approach of keeping all players in the locker room until after the anthem is played.
According to The Post's report, some owners would like to require all players to stand for the anthem while others remain opposed to such a mandate, and there appears to be insufficient support to make that a leaguewide policy.
“My guess is they will leave it up to the teams,” a high-ranking official with one NFL franchise told The Post.
Others expressed a similar view in recent days, saying that is the solution that could satisfy owners on both sides of the issue.
The current policy, included in the game operations manual sent by the league to teams, says players must be on the sideline for the anthem. It recommends but does not require that players stand for the anthem.
Trump Says Protesting NFL Players Should be Fired
Standing for the national anthem has been a point of controversy since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 refused to stand. Other players have followed his lead, creating backlash -- especially from President Donald Trump and his supporters. Trump said players who kneel during the National Anthem should be "fired." (See video above)
Kaepernick still does not have a job and has a pending grievance filed against the NFL.
The controversy shows no signs of going away, and, in fact, is finding its way into the political discourse leading up to the November off-year elections. Some conservative candidates, particularly Republicans, are accusing their liberal opponents of "disrespecting the flag" because they support protesting players and their right to free speech.
It will be interesting to see how the league handles this matter this year. It appears that the controversy will continue, regardless of what determination is made.