The controversial issue of kneeling during the National Anthem continues to take over the football world with the implementation of a new policy that requires all players to stand during the anthem’s course.
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, announced the new policy in a press conference, which states “All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”
Players also have the option of staying in the locker room for the anthem. Refusing to stand on the sidelines during the National Anthem will result in fines from the NFL.
The kneeling movement was started in 2016 by Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, as a way of protesting violence and police brutality.
From its start in 2016, players, coaches, politicians and viewers have expressed mixed opinions regarding the movement. As of the present, differing opinions remain — some have supported the new policy, while others have opposed it.
Many fans decided to boycott football, while others strongly support kneeling for the use of protesting racial inequality. People on both sides of the debate took to Twitter, using hashtags such as #boycottnfl, #takeaknee and #standforouranthem.
From the start of the debate, President Donald Trump opposed the idea of kneeling and expressed his strong views on social media.
In a Twitter post from 2017, Trump said “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
With the new NFL policy, Trump has continued to express his belief that players need to stand during the National Anthem.
According to NPR, Donald Trump said “Well, I think that’s good. I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it’s good. You have to stand, proudly, for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Malcolm Jenkins, an Eagles player, took to Twitter after the announcement of the new policy. According to SBNation, Jenkins wrote “What the 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. Everyone loses when our voices get stifled.”
Jenkins’s teammate, Chris Long, also expressed his opposition to the new NFL rule. He tweeted “I will continue to be committed to affecting change with my platform. I’m someone who’s always looked at the anthem as a declaration of ideals, including the right to peaceful protest. Our league continues to fall short on this issue.”
Christopher Johnson, the chairman of the New York Jets, said that he will pay any fines that players receive for not standing. Although he would rather have players stand, Johnson supports all players who decide to protest. He also said that players will not receive any punishment from the team for choosing to kneel or stay in the locker room.
Johnson said “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.”