Scoot: Is the NFL defying President Trump?

October 18, 2017 - 11:06 am

As the quarterly meetings of the NFL, owners and players opened in New York City, the league and the owners did not change the rule that allows players to kneel during the National Anthem.

The NFL and the NFLPA (NFL Players Association) issued a statement about a “productive meeting” and the commitment to work together to “promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities.”

The league announced plans to use their platform to “promote equality and effectuate positive change.” But there was no rule change, meaning that players will not be forced to stand during the National Anthem.

This morning, President Trump tweeted that the NFL was disrespecting the country.

The NFL’s reluctance to change the rule regarding standing for the National Anthem could be more the result of refusing to appear it is responding the President Trump’s demand and less about simply requiring the players to stand, like the NBA.

President Trump’s tendency to boast about the influence he has on America could be one of the reasons the NFL decided to not do as the President suggested and require players to stand. The league could easily have played out the scenario of changing the rule and forcing all players to stand during the National Anthem, which would be followed by President Trump bragging about how he is so powerful that even the NFL listens to what he says.

President Trump already took credit for the NFL changing policy when there was no change in policy. When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently issued a statement stating that everyone “should” stand for the playing of the National Anthem, President Trump quickly hit social media with a tweet saying the NFL had bent under pressure from him and was now “demanding” that the players stand.

This is an example of “fake news” spread by the President of the United States. Goodell issued a statement after Trump made the ridiculous claim that the NFL was changing the rule because of what he said. The statement reasserted that the NFL had not changed any policy and reinforced the current rule that players “should” stand, but are not required to stand.

Why would the NFL, or anyone, want to bend under pressure from President Trump knowing that the President would take credit for the power he has to manifest change?

This is similar to an elementary school dare. When someone without authority tells you to do something, there is a temptation to reject the demand. President Trump, essentially, dared the NFL not to change. Had the NFL changed the rule about standing for the National Anthem at this point, it would have appeared the league was allowing the President to dictate policy.

While many see this issue as a test of patriotism, some of the players and the NFL appear to be taking a stand – or a knee – to protest the assumption that President Trump can dictate specific policy in the business community.

What happens next is unknown. Will enough fans declare that standing for the National Anthem is the ultimate test of patriotism? Or, will those who respect the freedom of expression alleged to be protected by all the flag represents continue to support the NFL?

The backlash against players in the NFL has been building, which makes the timing of this controversy significant. Fed up with highly paid, pampered millionaire players and billionaire owners that continue to benefit from increased ticket and concession prices, fan disenchantment with NFL football began long before the controversy over standing for the National Anthem.

Right now, there is a standoff. Who will blink first: the NFL and the owners or the fans?

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