NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – While the first regular season NFL game is still 105 days away, no doubt fans will be filling sports bars and the national anthem controversy will still be raging.
According to a policy set forth by the National Football League on Wednesday, players who don’t want to stand for the anthem must stay in the locker room. Any sideline signs of disrespect will lead to fines against the team.
The issue is prompting a mix of opinions: Is the policy inbounds or offsides?
Some are saying the players should protest on their own time, while others say “this is America” and anyone should be allowed to kneel, reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“Taking a knee is really not that serious if you think about it,” said one fan.
“The national anthem is for all of us, it’s not an opportunity for them to exploit their political views,” said another.
Manhattanville College professor David Torromeo calls the NFLs’ policy a muddled compromise.
“The team can fine the players, the league isn’t going to fine the players,” he said. “So they’re leaving that up to the teams, but if your players kneel, they’re going to fine the team. So it’s a strange mix.”
Torromeo’s school is no stranger to the issue, having faced its own anthem controversy 15 years ago.
It started on the Manhattanville College campus when basketball player Toni Smith, then a senior, turned her back during the “Star Spangled Banner” to protest the U.S. war in Iraq.
Back then, the act promopted flag-waving protests, but the controversy faded when Smith graduated.
Torromeo says now, with the NFL, “seems like they took a story that was fading and threw gasoline on it with this decision.”
In either case, it sets the stage for a controversial start of the season.