The NFL Causes More Controversy Over the Anthem Protests

The NFL Causes More Controversy Over the Anthem Protests

Roger Goodell and the owners voted to approve a change in procedure that they hoped would alleviate the tension and negative publicity from the national anthem protests.  However, as details of the new national anthem protocol emerged, it became apparent that the NFL only created more problems for themselves.

Under the new national anthem rules, players will be fined if they take a knee on the sidelines during the presentation of the national anthem, but players who wish to protest will be able to stay in the locker room while the national anthem is being played.

Seems a bit convoluted right? What the  NFL wants us to believe is that they are allowing players to exercise their first amendment right to protest, while maintaining a “respectful” decorum for the presentation of our nation’s flag and anthem.

The Literal Translation of the Anthem Rule:

Roger Goodell is catching heat from the owners because tv ratings have fallen around 20% in the last two seasons and business and sponsorship has been negatively affected.  The NFL, like any other business, is a bottom line, profit-driven business who will do anything to grow their bottom line.

By the convoluted message of this rule, the players first amendment right to peacefully protest is being suppressed.  We understand that protests like these will become uncomfortable and some will disagree with our points of view but the right to speak one’s thoughts and ideas supersede the two minutes that the viewing audience will be inconvenienced by seeing a player take a knee or raise their hand in the air to express their beliefs.

The problems that stem from the new anthem rule present a complicated issue for the NFL that they may not have a solution for.   Yes, the NFL is one of the most powerful corporations in the US that has the clout to control any problem and silence any voice, but they look to have finally met their match in this battle against both the consumer as well as members of the US government.  Simply put, the NFL has unintentionally picked a fight with a bigger, badder bully; a bully to which they are no match.

This anthem protest controversy has opened quite the kettle of fish because the shield does not have control over this situation.  What do I mean by that?, I mean that this battle is a battle between the players, the fans, and the political actors in this country.  The NFL, in this situation, is like a king who helplessly watches his soldiers battle in the defense of his empire.

Over the past two years, the NFL has continually lost ratings and watched their revenue decrease. As a result, they have been called to action by their owners (the caretakers of the NFL empire), who are upset that their revenue has diminished and their bottom line is shrinking. By enacting this new national anthem procedure the owners are expecting the emperor, Roger Goodell, to instantly improve the NFL’s image with the fans so that they will watch NFL games again thus improving their bottom line.

Trying to intervene in this situation puts the NFL in a vulnerable position since they essentially work solely to protect the owner’s profit margins not the player’s rights to freely express themselves.  The past two years have put the NFL in a triangle of wrath from the players, the consumers, and the owners.  It was clear that something had to and would be done by the start of the 2018 season to attempt to alleviate the combustible tension between the three parties.

This legislation was supposed to be the olive branch to all parties involved in the triangle of wrath against the NFL.  However, the changes to the rules have not satisfied all parties.  Some owners realize that there is really nothing that can be done to stop the players from expressing themselves once they are on the field without tainting the quality of the game.

The fans have expressed mixed reactions and are smart enough to see through the NFL’s double standard through this rule change, and a large percentage of the players have called out the NFL for suppressing their freedom of speech and being bottom line driven.

The battle between the NFL and its players stems from the fact that the players feel like they have been abused when it comes to the issues of compensation and player safety.  Judging from the reactions, it seems like many players feel that the NFL again sold them out once again because it benefitted their bottom line.

With this change to the rules, the NFL has drawn a line in the sand and shown where their loyalty lies.  The change in policy was not done to create a more harmonious society or enact policies to help their fellow man, it was done on the premise of preventing a decline in revenue and ratings for a third straight season.

It is important to recognize the NFL as a bottom line driven business just like any other corporation and consume the product based on your personal feelings and the quality of the product being presented week in and week out.

Most of all, I would encourage you to continue to enjoy the beauty of the sport of football. Continue to enjoy the excitement of a breakaway touchdown or shoestring tackle. Continue to enjoy the roar of the crowd, the unpredictability of a playoff game, and the thrill of victory.  Continue to enjoy watching and attending games with family and friends, and make memories that will last a lifetime because that is what football in its purest form is all about.


David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave