NFL and NBA focused on twisting anthem narrative instead of real issues

Colin Kaepernick made news last year by sitting and then kneeling for the national anthem. Since that time, despite him being very clear and concise as to why he was he was taking the actions he was ( which was because of police brutality, systematic racism ), there has been a concerted effort by those in the media, and even in politics, to change the narrative over the actual reason for the protesting.

Initially the fake outrage was directed at non-existent disrespect of American soldiers, both past and present. The purveyors of these “alternative facts” have not let the fact this has been debunked by troops, both active duty and retired, coming out and saying they did not feel disrespected and that they serve so people can have the freedom to speak out.

The other direction the spin doctors attempted to divert the narrative, is this kneeling these players are doing is disrespectful to the flag. NFL team owners such as Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones , although he locked arms and kneeled with the team prior to the Cowboys’ September 25 game against Arizona, have made it abundantly clear where they stand in relation to the protests. He has this to say in regards to them:

Too many fans of the Dallas Cowboys perceive this [kneeling] as disrespect for the flag. And so I don’t want our team doing it.

If there is anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play, understand? We will not…if we are disrespecting the flag then we will not play. Period.

If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag. Respecting the flag is first.

This line of thinking that the act of kneeling during the anthem is a worse offense than the systematic racism and police brutality they are actually protesting is not a one-off with Jerry Jones. Miami Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross feels the same way as Jones. Ross furthers distorts the true narrative of the protests with these comments at a tailgate:

It’s a different dialogue today. Whenever you’re dealing with the flag, you’re dealing with something different. (Trump) has changed that whole paradigm of what protest is. I think it’s incumbent upon the players today, because of how the public is looking at it, is to stand and salute the flag.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated again recently the league believes it players should stand, saying he wanted the numbers of players protesting “at zero.” (Notice he didn’t say that he wanted the reason for their protests to be addressed, only he wanted them to shut talking about it.) More from Goodell: “everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”

However according to Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN, Goodell was in opposition of Jerry Jones in the recent NFL meetings regarding the matter of anthem protests.

The NBA ,in an attempt to get out in front of any players deciding to have a mind of their own, announced they had a rule requiring that players and coaches must stand for the anthem. Commissioner Adam Silver doubled down by saying:

It’s my hope that our players will continue to use that as a moment of unity,” Silver said Thursday after the league’s board of governors meeting in Manhattan. … Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem. And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now.

It is very interesting that Silver parroted the “divisive” talking point that has been used by so many as a straw man to the real issue. Could Adam Silver and the other spewers of this drivel explain how not standing for a song could possibly be more be more divisive than police murdering a segment of the population and consistently get away scott free?

A memo was sent to all thirty NBA ball clubs.

Here is that memo:






As a follow-up to our discussions at this week’s Board of Governors meetings, this document outlines suggested steps each team could take as we prepare for the start of the season and continue to develop impactful community programs.


If you have not done so already, we suggest organizing discussions between players, coaches, general managers and ownership to hear the players’ perspectives.

One approach would be for team leadership to review existing team and league initiatives and encourage players to share their thoughts and ideas about them. Following those conversations, teams could develop plans prior to the start of the regular season for initiatives that players and senior leadership could participate in, such as:

– Hosting Community Conversations with youth, parents, community leaders and law enforcement about the challenges we face and our shared responsibility to create positive change.

– Creating “Building Bridges Through Basketball” programs that use the game of basketball to bring people together and deepen important bonds of trust and respect between young people, mentors, community leaders, law enforcement and other first responders.

– Highlighting the importance of mentoring with the goal of adding 50,000 new mentors to support young people through our PSA campaign.

– Engaging thought leaders and partners. A variety of experts, speakers and partner organizations are available to players

and teams as you continue these conversations and develop programming.

– Establishing new and/or enhancing ongoing team initiatives and partnerships in the areas of criminal justice reform, economic empowerment and civic engagement.


As we approach opening week, each team could explore ways to use their first home game as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the NBA’s core values of equality, diversity, inclusion and serve as a unifying force in the community, including:

– A joint address to fans featuring a player or coach prior to the National Anthem. This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season.

– A video tribute or PSA featuring players, community leaders, faith leaders and team leadership speaking about the issues they care about and photos from past community events.


– These are difficult and nuanced issues.

– We support and encourage players to express their views on matters that are important to them.

– The NBA has a rule that players, coaches and trainers stand respectfully for the anthem. The league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach or trainer does not stand for the anthem. (Teams do not have the discretion to waive this rule).

– Our team’s focus remains on unity and collective action that leads to meaningful change in society. The players have embraced their roles in those efforts and we are proud of the work they do in our communities.

– We believe sports are a unifier and this is an opportunity for the NBA to once again lead by its core values of equality, inclusion and unity and to bridge divides and bring people together.

It appears the NBA has taken an even more hardline stance than the NFL, as the league stated in the memorandum that NBA clubs are prohibited from waiving the rule mandating players, coaches and trainers must stand for the anthem. Although it may sound good with its use of and alleged advocacy of lofty sounding ideals such as ‘unity”and “building communities “ ,this memo is essentially telling the players they can only react in a manner that is sanctioned by the League , i.e. doesn’t make people uncomfortable.

This is interesting because the NBA has set precedent for responding to political and social events.Recall, the NBA acted swiftly to remove last year’s All-Star game from Charlotte because of the bathroom bill passed by the state legislature; the league warned Texas the state could be overlooked for future events should their legislators pass a similar bill. However the league had nothing to say about the situation in Michigan, a state in which there is an NBA ballclub, when obvious government malfeasance caused people to die in Flint due to contaminated drinking water.

Theconcerted effort at this “narrative-jacking” is calculated and intentional. There are many things you can label those who are working so vigorously to construct these straw men, but stupid is not one of them. This intentional movement that seeks to steer the conversation serves two purposes:

  1. Diverts the conversation and focus away from the real issues ( police brutality/systemic racism) to unrelated straw men to unrelated matters , i.e. the national anthem and the troops.
  2. Turning public sentiment against the protest. Due to the volume and frequency of diverting the conversation, there is, unfortunately, a rather sizable segment of the populace that has taken hold of the straw men arguments and based their stance on that. This sentiment can then be used demonize and even silence dissenting thoughts.

It is abundantly clear that the NFL and NBA have been been complicit in the ongoing attempts to morph the protest narrative. These leagues have seemingly had no such misgivings when it has come to supporting the causes of other communities, but an issue that disproportionately affects nearly 70% of NFL players and 74% of NBA players, both organizations have wrapped themselves, most disingenuously, in the flag and the military to avoid the real issue. It is just another example of unless it’s an cause the leagues have sanctioned, they just want these guys to shut up and worry about touchdowns and slam dunks.

Related posts

Leave a Comment