The NFL released a new national-anthem policy that requires players to stand on the field or remain in the locker room (or similar location) during the song.
That didn’t sit well with Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Melissa Rohlin of the Bay Area News Group:
Good thing Kerr doesn’t work in a league that mandates players, coaches and trainers “stand and line up in a dignified posture” during the anthem, that suspended a player for sitting during the anthem, that warns players for chewing gum or being in the bathroom during the anthem, that has a team that blocked a black anthem singer who wore a “We matter” jersey.
The NBA, like the NFL, is first and foremost a business seeking profit. When confronted with social issues, from Donald Sterling to “I can’t breathe” shirts, the NBA has always kept an eye on its wallet.
With the threat of anthem protests looming, the NBA proactively met with players to head off any kneeling. That was business strategy, nothing grander.
The result? Players linked arms during the national anthem in the name of same vague unity, co-opting the space and distorting the message of Colin Kaepernick’s more meaningful protest.
Eventually, teams stopped linking arms during the anthem. Nobody really noticed when it fell off.
All the while, no sponsors or fans were aggrieved.
The NFL is just trying to get to the same point with a similar policy.
But the NFL already alienated its players through the heavy-handed implementation of this policy and years of other issues. The NBA has established greater trust from its players, both by finessing them in talks about societal issues and actually standing behind them, like the Bucks did with Sterling Brown.
There are plenty of opportunities to criticize the NFL relative to the NBA. The leagues’ national-anthem policies are not a good one.
And spare me the idea that leaders trying to divide us from on high is What’s Wrong With Our Country. Centuries of racism have already divided us.
Some leaders, like Donald Trump, exploit those divisions. Other leaders talk fancifully of unity without actually reconciling what caused the divisions.
But the actual divisions were already significant.