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NFL Adapts New National Anthem Policy

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After a season of NFL players protesting the national anthem to raise awareness of racial equality and police brutality, a policy has been created that requires players to stand for the anthem if they are on the field, but gives them the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

The policy disciplines violators to a fine. Violation involves any disrespect to the American flag, including any attempt to sit or kneel, as many players did during last season. Teams also have the power to fine players and personnel for violations.

“I do not see a problem with the policy,” sophomore Payden Hillegass said. “It is a nice compromise between both groups. Players can protest the flag by staying in the locker room and those who want to respect the flag can do so.”

The previous policy required players to be on the field during the anthem and that they “should” stand for the flag. When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting the flag, the league didn’t have a rule to prevent it.

“If you are on the field, you should stand and respect the flag, but staying in the locker room is the better way to protest than taking a knee and draws less attention and chaos from fans and people watching it on television,” sophomore Alex Obarow said.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in his announcement that the league wants people to be respectful of the national anthem.

“We want all 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,” Goodell said.

The protesting of the national anthem began in August of 2016 when Kaepernick chose to sit and later kneel rather than to stand for the anthem. This display initially received criticism from fans and President Trump. The movement became widespread with over 200 players sat or kneeled after President Trump called for protesters to be fired.

“I don’t like how Trump is always focused on it as president,” Hillegass said. “Sports shouldn’t be his main priority.”

Some details of the policy remain unclear, such as the specific fine that teams would be subject to and how the league will define respect for the flag.

“If players are really serious about the protests they will continue it in which every way they want and won’t let the policies stop them, fines don’t really affect some of the players making millions of dollars a year,” Obarow said, “but less will probably kneel this due to the new policy.

This policy will go into effect for the upcoming season where it will be tested against many protesters. 

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