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Stand Up- How The NFL Really Feels
(photo via Sporting News)

Stand Up- How The NFL Really Feels

Hip hop legend, Ludacris, has a song called “Stand Up” and at the beginning of the song he says, “Stand up! Stand up! Stand up! Stand up! When I move, you move.” Then a woman asks, “just like that?” Now when Ludacris wrote these lyrics, his intentions were to make a good song that people could dance to. The NFL could of easily used these lyrics to explain their new national anthem policy.

The NFL recently announced that starting next season when the national anthem is playing, if players are on the field, they have to stand up and show “respect” for the flag.If they kneel or do something that is deemed to be “disrespectful” they will be punished and the team will be fined.

If they do not want to stand up during the anthem, they have the choice to stay in the locker room. Basically, they’re saying if players aren’t standing up during the anthem and moving how the NFL wants them to move, then “We don’t want to see you.”

The timing of the announcement caught plenty of people off guard as the protests were no longer a topic of conversation. The unveiling of this policy brought attention to an issue that seemed to be dead. There were no stories or mentions during last season’s NFL playoffs of players demonstrating during the National Anthem.

Now with all that being said, the move is understandable from a business perspective. The majority of the NFL’s fans will support this move because they believe its the NFL’s way of being patriotic.

The NFL is all about the bottom line and the owners understand the majority of their fans who buy tickets and merchandise were against the demonstration of NFL players kneeling, raising a fist, sitting or doing anything besides standing with their hand over their heart while the anthem played.

These same fans who were so offended by the players protesting during the national anthem didn’t find it offensive when players didn’t have to be on the field for the anthem.

Yes, believe it or not, before 2009, players being on the field during the national anthem wasn’t a rule. Why wasn’t there an uproar about the lack of patriotism back then?

This is why the blame cannot fall solely on the owners, they are doing what they believe will satisfy the fan base. If the majority of fans cared about the issues that the protesters wanted to bring attention to, then the NFL would care about the issues.

The NBA has a similar rule for the national anthem but the league as a whole cares about social issues and shows it. The NFL cares about making money and they made this move to appease the biggest portion of their fan base, and the current president of the United States.

photo courtesy of The Granite Falls Times

When Colin Kaepernick started his protest during the national anthem, it was to bring attention to several issues but mainly police brutality against African-Americans. We have seen several cases where the police have gone over board in the amount of force they have used in situations with black people.

In a lot of these cases, the incident ended with the death of a black person and no punishment for the police officers involved. This is why the new policy the NFL has implemented feels like a slap in the face to most fans of the African American culture.

Even though the owners are looking at this business wise, how could they establish a policy that is attempting to silence the players who want to stop the unwarranted death of black men at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them?

Over 75% of the league is comprised of black players, how can it be expected for them to ignore an issue that could literally lead to players dying?

Kaepernick originally started the protest by sitting down on the bench during the anthem and then transitioned to kneeling after speaking to a military veteran about the protest. He knelt to show respect to the flag while also saying that the country is not living up to what that flag represents for all of its citizens.

Even with all of his explanations and articles displaying why Kaepernick was protesting and how it was not meant to disrespect our country or military, people still found a way to twist it into an issue about respect or lack thereof for our military and flag.

Last season with Kaepernick out of the NFL, some players continued to protest in different ways which led to President Donald Trump speaking out against those players and calling them “S.O.B”s.

After the president made those inflammatory statements, more players joined the protest. The protest had evolved from a demonstration to bring attention to the issues minorities face in this country (mainly police brutality) to a protest about freedom of speech.

A lot of the players felt that President Donald Trump had violated their first amendment right. The week after the uptick in protesters, the NFL had several demonstrations of full teams taking knees before the anthem or locking arms during the anthem as a show of “solidarity”.

photo courtesy of npr.org

This came off as disingenuous to a lot of the fans as owners like Jerry Jones who were totally against any form of protests during the anthem joined in to show their “support” of the players.

This killed the momentum of the original message of the protest and by the time the playoffs came around the story was dead, which is why the timing of the announcement of this policy is bewildering. The NFL definitely doesn’t want this to be a story next year but it will be when certain players are not on the field.

The NFL’s shield may be red, white and blue but the NFL’s true color is green.

They will do whatever it takes to secure ratings, ticket and merchandise sales, which they have every right to do. It is a business, after all. The fans dictate what the NFL will do and in this case, they dictated a new rule which is a slap in the face to most of its players.

The president and a large portion of football’s fan base spoke up and said, “Stand up! When I move, you move” and the NFL said, “Just like that?”

 

About Damian Adams

San Diego, California

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