NFL Teams Will Be Fined if Players Kneel During National Anthem
“Everyone loses when voices get stifled.”
The NFL’s team owners passed down a new directive on Wednesday that allows the league to punish players and fine teams for kneeling during the national anthem.
The decision was met with dismay from activists and players who say the policy violates the right to free speech, The New York Times reports.
“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,” Malcolm Jenkins, a player on the Philadelphia Eagles and head of the Players Coalition, said in a statement. “Everyone loses when voices get stifled.”
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The NFL framed the new policy as a compromise. Although the policy effectively bans players from kneeling, it allows players who do not wish to stand to stay in the locker room during the national anthem.
“The new policy will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
President Donald Trump expressed support for the new policy, saying that “NFL owners did the right thing” and that players who don’t stand for the anthem “maybe ... shouldn't be in the country.”
Players, commentators, and fans alike took to social media to comment on the new policy:
The NFL is 80% black. Imagine if they all sat out a Sunday or two...— Travon Free (@Travon) May 23, 2018
In response to Trump, Pence, and Trump Jr. all publicly claiming victory in the NFL decision - and even tweeting "winning" after the decision was made, Colin Kaepernick's attorney, @markgeragos just tweeted this case law.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) May 24, 2018
What Trump & Pence have done is illegal.
It's a crime. pic.twitter.com/ODSX2ofybP
1. I disagree that it is “winning” to force Americans to stand for the national anthem, even though I think it is utterly wrong to kneel for the national anthem.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 24, 2018
2. Those who knelt politicized the NFL long before those who responded to the kneeling.
While the phenomenon of players protesting police brutality during the national anthem began in 2016 with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the roots of kneeling in protest can be traced back to the Civil Rights Movement.
Taking a knee is not without precedent Mr. President. Those who dared to protest have helped bring positive change pic.twitter.com/Ik0t1mHaYl— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) September 24, 2017
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