The NFL made the wrong call with the anthem controversy and players kneeling. The “solution” is a cowardly move that will make no one happy and will not solve the problem. The controversy will continue to the detriment of both the league and the nation.
The policy is simple: Players are required to stand for the national anthem. If they do not wish to stand, they can stay in the locker room. But the policy has a loophole so bit it invalidates itself: Some teams have already said that players who want to make a spectacle of themselves can still come out and kneel. The team will pay the fine to protect the “free speech” rights of their players.
Here is the obvious problem with that argument. There is no free speech issue here. No one will be denied the right to speak. If the players want to protest police brutality or some other issue, they are free to do so on their own time. But when you are at work, you are not on your own time – you are on your employer’s time. As an employee on the clock, you should obey basic workplace rules. If you will not do that, your employer has the right to discipline you.
One unnecessary problem is the involvement of the President. Donald Trump needs to realize that he is not merely a pundit or a celebrity, but the most powerful executive on the planet. As such, his words automatically carry authority that no one else has, so there is at least the implied threat of governmental force involved. Furthermore, Trump needlessly politicized an issue where most NFL fans agree with him. The NFL would have backed down even if Trump had stayed silent about it. Trump has caused this issue to be much more divisive and caustic than it needed to be. Part of being presidential is knowing when to stay silent.
The solution to this fight is obvious: Keep all of the players in the locker room until the anthem is over. Make sure there are no cameras in the locker room. Then, the players can kneel all they want. That neutralizes the entire controversy. As it stands now, the controversy will continue, which is why this is a stupid “solution” to a problem that should have been solved years ago.