We got ourselves a good ol’ classic case of good news/bad news whiplash this week when it comes to the first amendment when, only moments after discovering the president can no longer legally block us (hahaha, nerd), the NFL has barred sitting during the national anthem (wait, what?).
Ever since Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in order to protest the unlawful and cruel treating of black individuals by police, the judicial system, and otherwise, many others have followed suit. It was an act both celebrated and controversial, as even President Trump, forever much more interested in creating a festering hard-right culture war than passing any actual laws, weighed in on the sides of those who found the act distasteful.
However, the act was protesting by public figures against an unjust system, and it is a shame that the act, voted unanimously on by 32 owners, is now not punishable by penalty of fine. Athletes can, however, show their protest by sitting out the national anthem by sitting in the locker room, hinting that barring the act of kneeling during the anthem is more about PR than anything else. Commissioner (and big coward) Roger Goodell said —
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
Although all 32 owners approved the policy, New York Jets owner Christopher Johnson has offered to pay the fine if any of his players kneel, not discouraging them from kneeling during the anthem. The owner said —
“As I have in the past, I will support our players wherever we land as a team… Our focus is not on imposing any club rules, fines or restrictions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear…we will continue to work closely with our players to constructively advance social justice issues that are important to us. I remain extremely proud of how we demonstrated unity last season as well as our players’ commitment to strengthening our communities.”
In the past, the New York Jets owner Johnson has said “trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea”, and today that seems to indeed be the case as this threatens to be a black eye for the NFL as players accuse it, quite correctly, of making a decision without keeping them and their right to protest in mind.
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