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The Anthem Debate Is Back. But Now It’s Standing That’s Polarizing.

  • July 04, 2020

Others appear to be bracing for the issue to return, but without a firm stance.

In the N.B.A., which is planning to quarantine itself at Disney World in Florida this month to complete its season, Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about how the league will handle the likelihood of players kneeling for the anthem. The league has had a stand-only policy for decades, he pointed out to Time magazine recently.

“I also understand the role of protest, and I think that we’ll deal with that situation when it presents itself,” Silver said.

Major League Baseball, which hopes to begin a shortened season later this month, had only one player kneel in 2017. It took no clear stance then. Its abstinence may be tested this month.

The N.F.L., which found itself at the center of the controversy, banned kneeling in 2018, opting instead for a stand-or-hide (in the locker room) choice. But Commissioner Roger Goodell recently showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and, in his own pivot, for player protests.

“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to N.F.L. players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” he said.

It all promises to make the anthem must-watch television again this fall.

And with bleachers and bar stools still mostly off limits, the patter will ricochet mostly through social media. That is what happened with the N.W.S.L., where the anthem threatened to overshadow the league’s season openers last weekend.

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