NFL: No change in anthem policy despite Veterans Day boycott
The NFL league office says there will be no change in their policy about standing for the national anthem despite a promised boycott by fans for Veterans Day.
Boycott the NFL, a Facebook page with more than 227,000 followers, has called on supporters to tune out Sunday’s games “in solidarity with veterans around the country,” while the conservative watchdog group 2ndVote asked fans to “stiff-arm the NFL.”
“We’re sending the National Football League, its corporate sponsors, and the television networks a message this Veterans Day weekend!” said 2ndVote. “Americans are sick of the disrespectful National Anthem protests that the NFLhas not only allowed to continue, but has institutionalized in pregame ceremonies.”
About 22,000 people have indicated on Facebook that they plan to turn off the television for games.
2ndVote, which monitors corporate political activity, also launched the hashtag #STANDwithVets.
“Remember, several of the companies that do business with the NFL like DirecTV and Anheuser-Busch have signaled just how bad of a PR disaster the protests have been,” said 2ndVote. “Join us this weekend and we’ll hit the NFL and all of its sponsors where it counts!”
The boycott will be most noticeable in bars and taverns where fans and business owners have promised not to show any NFL games. Realizing the potential downside of a boycott, the players are prepared to switch tactics in order not to be seen disrespecting the military.
It’s possible that players who have refused to stand for the national anthem so far this season will make an exception for Veterans Day.
The half-dozen Seattle Seahawks players who have sat during the national anthem stood up for the flag at Thursday night’s game in what defensive end Michael Bennett later called a show of support for the military in honor of Veterans Day.
The NFL Players Association said players plan to observe a two-minute moment of silence for veterans at Sunday’s games, while various teams have planned other Veterans Day activities, including bringing military, vets and families onto the field for pregame ceremonies.
At the same time, the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement Saturday saying that “there has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem,” which says players “should” stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” but doesn’t require them to do so.
You would hope that vets and their families would refuse to take part in this charade, but that's probably too much to wish for. What's important is that the league and the players realize the trouble they're in with fans and are now seeking - too late - to rectify the situation.
That the anthem protests won't end anytime soon is evident in the announcement by the Commissioner of a meeting next week between owners and the players association:
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said they plan to discuss “important social issues” at next week’s league meeting.
“The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized,” said the statement. “Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way.”
Since the protests are based on a series of falsehoods and hysterical exaggerations, "vocalizing" concerns about the police deliberately killing black men and universal white racism is a waste of time. But that's the point that the NFL has arrived and the biggest reason why fans are tuning them out; they have taken an entertaining game - just a game - and turned it into a political cause.
Whether the boycott is successful is hardly the point. That it is even being taken seriously by the league shows that the owners know the price they are paying but are apparently powerless to stop it.