It’s unanimous: NFL owners voted on Wednesday to adopt a new rule requiring players to stand for the playing or singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games.
Last season, the NFL ran into loads of controversy as more and more players chose to kneel for the national anthem. Television ratings went down. Attendance at games went down.
With this new rule, the league has finally responded.
One caveat is that players do have the option to stay in the locker room during the anthem if they wish to protest.
Though many fans are likely pleased that the NFL has finally done something about the kneeling issue, it will also probably be too little and too late for some.
The league ran into trouble last season when it simply refused to address the kneeling issue in any meaningful way.
A statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the new decision reads in part: “This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed. We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”
When football season starts again in the months ahead, it will be interesting to see if protesting fans take the sport back with open arms.
It will also be interesting to see if any players continue to protest.
The new rule dictates that fines will be issued for any players who kneel.