Reprinted from The Hill by Avery Anapol on May 23, 2018.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) on Wednesday criticized the league for its new national anthem policy.
In a statement, the union said it would review the new policy and “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
The union accused the league of contradicting its previous statements and of ignoring players’ wishes in developing the new policy, which instructs that all team and league personnel should stand for the national anthem.
“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,’” the union said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.” …
NYT Editorial: The NFL Kneels to Trump
Reprinted from The New York Times Editorial Board on May 23, 2018.
The owners of the National Football League have concluded, with President Trump, that true patriotism is not about bravely standing up for democratic principle but about standing up, period.
Rather than show a little backbone themselves and support the right of athletes to protest peacefully, the league capitulated to a president who relishes demonizing black athletes. The owners voted Wednesday to fine teams whose players do not stand for the national anthem while they are on the field.
Let us hope that in keeping with the league’s pinched view of patriotism, the players choose to honor the letter but not the spirit of this insulting ban. It might be amusing, for example, to see the owners tied in knots by players who choose to abide by the injunction to “stand and show respect” — while holding black-gloved fists in the air. Or who choose to stand — while holding signs protesting police brutality. We look forward to many more meetings of fatootsed gazillionaires conducting many more votes on petty rules to ban creative new forms of player protest. …
Sachs: The NFL’s ‘Take a Knee’ Ban is Flatly Illegal
Reprinted from Vox by Benjamin Sachs on May 25, 2018.
“NFL team owners this week decided that players will no longer be allowed to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem,” writes Benjamin Sachs in Vox. “And if they do, they will be subject to punishment and their team will be subject to fines.
“The owners did provide the players with an alternative, of sorts: If a player does not wish to stand and salute the flag, he can stay in the locker room and wait for the anthem to end. This new league policy is meant to enforce a particular vision of patriotism, one that involves compliance rather than freedom of expression.
“The policy is also illegal — for a host of reasons.
“The clearest illegality derives from the fact that the league adopted its new policy without bargaining with the players union. When employees, including football players, are represented by a union, the employer — including a football league — can’t change the terms of employment without discussing the change with the union. Doing so is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.
“If, as the NFL Players Association says, the employer implemented this change on its own, the policy is flatly illegal for that reason and should be rescinded by the league. …
Benjamin Sachs is the Kestnbaum professor of labor and industry at Harvard Law School.