The NFL has switched gears and will now require players to stand on the field during the national anthem during take up the option of staying in the locker room, reports ESPN.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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,” he said.
If players do not follow the NFL’s no kneeling rule, or even sit, they are subject to a fine. That includes, players and team personnel. Standing during the national anthem is already a requirement for NBA players. Pro basketball players are instead encouraged by the league to create public messages about the issues that concern them.
For example, the Sacramento Kings collaborated with Black Lives Matter in response to the police shooting death of Stephon Clark earlier this year.
League explains position
Goodell said the NFL is “dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.”
The league will update its game operations manual to include the new requirement.
“The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed,” Goodell said in the statement. “The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.”
This comes months after NFL owners met with players to come to a compromise over how they could push their social injustice agendas without it interfering with their jobs as athletes.
Colin Kaepernick has made a name for himself both on and off the field for his ongoing activism. When he was still in the NFL, playing for the San Francisco 49ers, he made headlines for taking a knee during the national anthem beginning in the 2016 season.
That action spurred on hundreds of similar protests, with athletes across the country participating in similar protests of race relations in the United States and a failing criminal justice system.
Kaepernick is now suing the NFL, claiming that he was blackballed from being hired after leaving the 49ers because of his activism.
He is still a free agent.