Taking a knee during The National Anthem has been such a controversy since San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick started the act last year. It’s been identified as a problem and a matter of disrespect, especially to President Donald Trump.
Trump has launched multiple attacks on athletes taking a knee during the anthem on multiple occasions, even during times where it should have been the least of his concerns.
Trump has challenged the NFL’s owners to dismiss anyone who engages in the movement and publicly insulted protesting players in multiple speeches and social media post.
“That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said in September in Huntsville, Alabama.
Over a months’ worth of time after his freewheeling speech in Alabama, the world began to see more and more NFL players across the country kneel for the anthem in unprecedented defiance of Trump. Even other pro-athletes outside of the NFL joined in to kneel, including baseball player Bruce Maxwell.
This led Trump to push for the NFL to change their policy and ban kneeling. “The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our National Anthem,” Trump tweeted on Sep. 26.
Many professional athletes and sport executives have criticized the president’s statements and suggestions, arguing that kneeling during the anthem is a form of protest and protesters are just exercising their free speech.
On the morning of Oct. 10, Trump tweeted that tax laws should be changed to prevent the NFL from getting tax breaks since players were protesting.
“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” tweeted Trump.
That same day, a letter was issued to NFL team presidents and executives from Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, discussing to consider a possible change of the policy for the anthem.
The NFL policy asks that players “stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand and refrain from talking” during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, but it’s not stated to be a requirement. The policy also only allows for potential discipline from teams toward players failing to be on the field at that time.
But during a press conference on Wednesday, Goodell said that he and other team owners decided to leave the league’s policy unchanged. Instead of making a rule to force players to stand, NFL owners aim to convince players to participate, according to Goodell.
“What we try to do is deal with the underlying issue and understand what it is they are protesting and what we can do to address that,” said Goodell.
This left the president not too happy. He took to Twitter the same day saying that the NFL not changing its policy was a total disrespect to the country.
But Trump isn’t the only one who’s unhappy. The unchanged policy has been problematic for league sponsors and their customers according to The Wall Street Journal.
The financial service company USAA’s spokesperson said the company has been in regular contact with the league on this topic in recent weeks. “We’ve communicated with the NFL that we believe it’s an honor to stand during the national anthem,” the spokesman said.
USAA serves military members and their families. The company’s message boards have multiple complaints from angry customers about the company continuing to be affiliation with the NFL. Many customers also threatened to move their business elsewhere.
Smaller businesses say they are seeing “increasing blowback from fans angry about the protests.” Ben DeVoe, the director of franchise development for Pro Image Sports said his firm, which operates more than 100 retail franchises selling athletic merchandise, had a 20% drop in some markets.
Wall Street also mentioned a store in Arizona that sales NFL jerseys said that sales were flat for the first two weeks compared to 2016, and ended the month of September down 54%.
The policy has also angered NFL team CEO’s and Owners. Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys owner said that his team policy is that players must stand for the anthem and that those who don’t will not play.
Now the question at hand is; what will The NFL do if teams attempt to overlook the policy and enforce their own rules on players?
Sources: cited from twitter and wall street journal