One of the big problems with the whole NFL-Trump-national anthem protest controversy are so-called online “journalists” and broadcast anchors interjecting their opinions who know little (if anything) about the sport, couldn’t name more than a few teams, can’t tell you who played in the last Super Bowl, yet are telling you what’s going on regarding the effect of player-kneeling on the league and its brand.
And the league is reacting… sort of.
On Tuesday, before a regularly-scheduled meeting of the league’s owners in New York, players, their union’s leaders and owners will gather to try to find a way to move on. Players have been meeting with a handful of owners and league executives since August, discussing ways the league could support players’ efforts on social issues. But while a joint statement released last week by the league and the union emphasized that there has been no change to the league’s current policy, which does not require players to stand for the anthem, the hope for this meeting is that players and owners might at least move toward a solution that will bring most of the protests to an end, while also advancing the players’ goals.
— NFL, 10/16/17
You’ve probably heard many misinformed reasons online why the NFL owners are squishy on allowing players to protest during the playing of our national anthem, and some are even blowing off the comments from arrogant players telling disgruntled fans to stay home. Aside from the unpredictable, mediocre play coming from teams who have yet one more unrelated distraction occupying valuable time during the week all the way up to kickoff, it comes down to two reasons.
1. The players are under contract
The owners are trying to accommodate trouble-makers in the locker room who are all under contract and benching them could result in lawsuits. Not on First Amendment grounds, but because many of the lower tier players are paid by the play and/or incentives. Keeping them off the field for a reason not deemed breaking a morality clause or an injury or performance-related could get real ugly.
2. The seats for this season are already sold
Most tickets are sold either as season-ticket packages or individually and are non-refundable, that is, if you’re not the Cleveland Browns. There are many websites that re-sell tickets for fans that can’t attend a game. But ticket revenue has already been received by the teams and if every fan stayed home next Sunday, the owners have your money tucked away earning interest.
This whole controversy will be resolved before next season because if fans don’t buy season or individual game tickets, that will hit the teams directly on their bottom lines. Things could also get dicey for agents trying to sell protesting players to an owner who’s facing a fan revolt with ticket sales held for ransom.
Lastly, if game-viewing numbers continue to tumble, the networks could also put pressure on the owners to put an end to the sideline foolishness.