On May 23, 2018 the official National Football League (NFL) Twitter account posted their new policy for the behavior of personnel during the playing of the national anthem. While some people seem to be upset over this action, it seems that it is not drawing in nearly as much media coverage as the actions of quarterback Colin Kaepernick that likely prompted this policy change.
While other players eventually joined him in protesting the nation, he appeared to be the biggest threat to the NFL in terms of lowering their rating though he is currently a free agent and has not played on a team since 2016. So why exactly did the NFL decide on creating a policy if Kaepernick no longer plays for the NFL?
According to a Bleacher-Report article this action seems to be a desperate attempt to retain popularity and cash flow. The league probably believed they could make themselves more appealing to their fan base by removing the protests from the fields when they are actually just hurting their own profits. Something this erratic could not have been caused by just falling ratings or a drop in profits; the NFL is scared of something.
The biggest threat comes from Mr. Vince McMahon, the CEO of WWE and his upcoming re-introduction of the XFL with new rules from the previous 2001 XFL and the current NFL. The XFL is a football league that includes crazy nicknames, faster game play, fan involvement and no politics or criminal records whatsoever. The NFL is not only scared of losing fans but also of losing players to the hands of the influential McMahon. That is likely the reason they are desperately trying to regain fans and popularity.
The new policy is sort of an "out of the frying pan and into a different frying pan" scenario for protesting personnel.
Team associates are no longer required be on the field for the national anthem, but anyone who does not stand and show respect for the nation must remain in the locker room or risk a fine on themselves or the team. Another interesting point of the policy change is the idea of letting teams create their own punishments for players who do not follow the guidelines stated.
This could potentially be train wreck for teams and the NFL alike if a team bars a player from participating in the game as punishment because losing a player in an important game could cause the odds of a team winning a game to flip. With the Supreme Court allowing states to legalize sports betting, removing players from a game because they did not stand for the anthem would drive viewers and gamblers away from the NFL and over to XFL and other sports leagues.
Overall, the NFL is really just hurting themselves with this action.
The issue of players kneeling during the anthem was almost as forgotten as teebow-ing and had sorted itself out. If the NFL keeps these things up, the media will tear it apart, and when 2020 rolls around, the XFL will dominate the professional football scene while the NFL is left in the dust signalling the end of the league almost a century after its creation.