My Pitch

Stand, kneel or compromise?

Posted

Recently the NFL owners passed a new rule regarding the National Anthem and the players who have protested it.

As we all know, many players in the NFL have been taking a knee or sitting during the pregame National Anthem ceremony as a way to protest social and racial injustice throughout the country, especially toward African Americans.

The new rule gives players the option to either stand during the anthem, but if they do not wish to do so they may stay in the locker room during the singing.

Where do we begin?

First off, I need to make myself very clear when I say that I have never been the victim of any sort of racial or social injustice, so I am aware that I can’t speak from experience and I also am very conscience of the sensitivity of the topic. I’m not trying to take sides or pretend that I know what’s best with this issue … I am just simply giving my take.

Personally, I am not a fan of players kneeling or sitting during the anthem.

I absolutely believe that anyone should be allowed to speak out for what they believe in, that is one of the best parts about our country. As much as I do believe many of the players when they say that they mean no disrespect and are just trying to make a statement, I feel that by kneeling for the anthem is a sign of disrespect in itself.

But, would I ever try to ban it or shame them for doing so? No. I disagree with the approach but understand that this is their right and many of them have been victimized and have gone through despicable wrongs that I will never even come close to experiencing.

As for the NFL, I also understand why they passed the rule and why it has become such a source of controversy. The NFL is one of the most prominent businesses in the world and does not want its sponsors and business partners to associate it with disrespect for the country.

I understand why the players want to protest, and I understand why the NFL is upset with the protests. I think the biggest thing missing and the reason why a resolution has not been met is because of a clear lack of communication between the two sides … and this new rule does not help the cause one bit.

Who knows? Maybe there will never be a resolution, maybe there isn’t even a resolution to be found. But the NFL taking a hard stand the way it has is not the best approach. Players shouldn’t be fined or suspended for exercising their constitutional rights.

As much as it’s the NFL’s right as a business to pass these rules, it shows a lack of understanding, and most of all a lack of effort in fixing the problem.

The lovely thing about sports leagues like the NFL is that there are players unions. Players have a direct way to address their concerns with the league on a platform that can be heard. It also works the other way, if the NFL has a message to get across to its players, then it can reach out to the NFL Players Association to do so.

So why haven’t the two sides began negotiating? I think stubbornness.

The players feel that it is not up to them to budge, but so doesn’t the NFL.

I believe it is up to the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell to get the ball rolling because ultimately, he and the owners are the ones with the power.

Once again, I’m not an NFL player nor have I been the victim of racial injustice … but I have a feeling that if the NFL kindly reached out to the NFLPA and made it clear they wanted to come to a professional resolution, the players would be happy to explore a route to do so. The players just want to be heard and respected, and this would be the first step in showing them they have the league’s ear and respect.

However, as much as it is up to the league to get the conversation started, I do believe the players need to recognize the business aspect of the issue and why the NFL is unhappy with the stand they have taken. Maybe I’m giving the NFL the benefit of the doubt, but I really believe that most owners are OK with players expressing themselves and standing up for what they believe in, even if they disagree with the subject.

I’m now just rambling, but the short, concise way to put it is that I feel like a compromise is possible, and that both sides have their points while also having their errors. I believe it is up to the league to kick things off (no pun intended) since it has the power and rule makers. However, I also believe that it may to put money and business aside, and for once operate from a personal standpoint.

On the other hand, I do believe the players need to be open to cutting a deal. Not that they aren’t, but I feel like both sides need to be totally cooperative with one another and be passionate while not letting that emotion halt progress.

By taking a hard stand and doling out punishment is not the best route in my opinion, as much as I understand the league’s frustration. In a way it shows that the NFL is not interested in compromising with its greatest asset: the players.

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