On May 23, the NFL and the NBA set themselves apart in how they handle racial issues. NFL owners unanimously passed a rule that fines players who kneel for the national anthem before games. The policy says that “players will no longer be required to be present on the field for the anthem, but the league reserves the right to fine teams made up of players who choose to openly protest.”
The NFL says that all players and staff will stand and show respect for the flag and the national anthem, but there could be legal trouble for the league, on this issue, since the NFL Players Association says that it was not consulted in the making of this new policy.
The policy has already been met with sharp criticism from players, celebrities, and politicians. Columnist Shaun King said that several “star NFL players” told him that they are considering sitting out the season (tweet above) until the NFL’s new policy on kneeling is rescinded and Colin Kaepernick and former 49ers teammate, Eric Reid, are both given roster spots.
NBA head coach Steve Kerr said that the protests are about players peacefully expressing themselves. “I think our leaders in the NBA understand that when an NFL player is kneeling, they were kneeling to protest police brutality and to protest racial inequality,” Kerr said. “They weren’t disrespecting the flag or the military, but our president decided to make it about that and the NFL followed suit and pandered to their fan base by creating this hysteria.”
On the same day of the NFL’s new policy, video surfaced of the Sterling Brown incident with police, and the Milwaukee Bucks made a statement concerning the incident with Milwaukee police that took place back in January. The Bucks said that the officers’ actions were “shameful and inexcusable,” and that the incident with Brown “isn’t an isolated case.” While the Bucks support the courageous good police officers, they also call for more accountability among police officers who do what happened in the incident with Brown.
Demographics play a part in why the NFL and the NBA differentiate themselves in their stances on issues like these, but sometimes it goes too far. A league official told Bleacher Report that the NFL is “f—ing scared of Trump”, whereas the NBA has shown it is not in declining White House visits and regularly criticizing the president and his policies.
The two leagues continue to separate themselves with matters like these and the new NFL policy showed how different the NBA and NFL are.