Here we go again. The NFL's national anthem controversy continues unabated, now that the league has put its latest anthem policy on hold, pending talks with its players union. That policy, announced in early June, stated that players must stand for the national anthem or remain in the locker room while it is played. But the players union balked, claiming they were not consulted about the policy. Furthermore, the new policy drew criticism on both sides of the anthem issue.
The latest announcement means the anthem controversy will continue to hover over the league as training camps open and the new season approaches, while evidence shows the injection of politics is hurting the NFL's business. "I feel like every time we take one step forward on an issue in the NFL, the commissioner takes two steps back with something," says Sportstalk 790 host Matt Thomas. "It's a big, convoluted mess at this point, and that's why I think the league and the players association said let's take a step back, re-evaluate this, and try to come up with something that satisfies both sides."
Thomas tells KTRH the league has a lot at stake, and needs to find a way to ultimately solve this issue. "The owners really want to make sure this isn't an issue much longer, because they feel like their fan base---the ones who are paying money to watch these events---generally speaking, aren't in favor of this," he says.
Of course, President Trump weighed in on the latest developments on the issue, posting on Twitter, "The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again---can't believe it!" The President went on to propose his own anthem policy: a one-game suspension the first time a player kneels during the anthem, and a season-long suspension without pay for the second time a player does it.
Although the league's TV ratings have declined the last two years, Thomas doesn't think the anthem issue ultimately affects television fans, since it involves things happening during pregame. "If I'm a sports fan, if I'm a football fan, I'm really caring more about what I see between noon and 3 pm, and I'm not particularly caring what I see at 11:45," he says.