NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance, ESPN reported.
The new policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem, which includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons. The on-field protests began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling to protest police brutality.
The protests drew increasing criticism from President Donald Trump, as well as many fans, who believed it was a sign of disrespect toward the flag and country.
Players will reportedly have the option to remain in the locker rooms and will only be fined if they appear on the field and then protest.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.
“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”
Statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pic.twitter.com/1Vn7orTo1R
— NFL (@NFL) May 23, 2018
Goodell said the NFL is “dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.”