The issue of NFL football players refusing to stand or choosing to raise their fist, or join teammates of the field for the national anthem in the name of freedom of speech opens a series of potential problems for the NFL, their owners, players and fans. How do they deny other players in the name of free speech by wearing pink shirt uniforms, religious or political symbols on their helmets? Using the principle of the right to freedom of speech, will players now be allowed to publicly denounce teammates’ play calls or verbally challenge coaches’ directions?
It is a privilege for NFL players and owners to earn big money when they provide clean, clear entertainment to its customers and viewers. While there are many non-game issues which need to be addressed by the public, entertainment venues such as NFL games are supposed to free fans from outside distractions as a respite from the daily problems of political, personal and cultural discourse.
Far too many have sacrificed their lives to keep us safe, and it is by standing quietly for our national anthem that we honor their sacrifices. If the NFL owners and players’ greed tempts them to dishonor our fallen, then the public has the right and responsibility to abandon them and their sponsors, and the players should be freed to choose whatever form of protest they select on the playing field.
Paul Jankiewicz, Ph.D.