Donald Trump suggests NFL players who kneel during the national anthem 'shouldn't be in the country'
Yesterday, the National Football League announced major changes regarding its policy surrounding the national anthem. The new rules mean that teams who have players that refuse to stand for the anthem can end up being fined for their player's conduct.
According to the new policy, players who choose to sit or kneel during the anthem will now have to do so "in the locker room."
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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.
"This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem," Goodell added.
Players had been "taking a knee" during the national anthem since Colin Kaepernick began doing so in 2016. At the time, Kaepernick would sit down during The Star Spangled Banner in order to highlight the mistreatment of people of color in America. He said: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid and getting away with murder."
Because of his roll in the protests, Kaepernick has been left without a team and is now a free agent. However, despite the fact he divided fans, there were plenty of players who supported their colleague and still do to this day.
The NFL's change of policy may have been popular with certain fans of the sport, but it drew swift backlash from players, with the NFL Players Association quickly noting that the league "chose not to consult the union in the development of this new 'policy.'"
Individual players who take part in the protest or supported their teammates throughout the ordeal, criticized the move, issuing statements across their social media in which they openly criticized the league and its rationale.
Malcolm Jenkins, a player for the Philadelphia Eagles, accused the league of thwarting "players' constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country."
Jenkins vowed not to "let the decision silence me or stop me from fighting" and his sentiment has been echoed by fellow professionals such as Torrey Smith, Damon Harrison and Chris Long.
However, one person who thinks that the league has made the right decision, is President Donald Trump.
Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Trump said that the NFL had done the "right thing," but didn't agree that players should even be allowed to protest in the locker rooms.
"You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem. You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country," he said.
It's not the first time Trump has discussed the issue, the president has regularly weighed into the debate surrounding the protests, with him accusing players who knelt of "disrespecting" the USA.
Despite this, he denies that his opinions on the matter were the reason that the NFL decided the change the policy.
"I think the people pushed it forward; this was not me. I brought it out," he said. "This country is very smart; we have very smart people and, you know, that’s something ideally could have been taken care of when it first started, it would have been a lot easier, but if they did that, they did the right thing."
At the end of the day, Kaepernick's kneel wasn't hurting anyone, so what is the big hoo-ha? No one should be forced to stand for their national anthem, it should be a matter of choice.