More than a week after the NFL clumsily changed its national anthem policy in a way that managed to take a bad situation and make it worse, the NBA won’t be changing its own rules and regulations regarding the anthem.
Via SportsBusiness Daily, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in an annual “state of the league ” press conference that there’s no reason to change the state of the league’s rule that players must stand for the anthem.
“The NFL is in a very different situation than the NBA,” Silver said. “Twenty-five percent of our league is comprised of players who aren’t American. So it’s hard to say in the case of the NBA it’s about patriotism, when a quarter of our players aren’t even American. But we’ve collectively viewed it as a moment of unity in our arenas.”
That’s kind of a weird explanation, frankly. The more accurate truth is that, in the aftermath of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refusing to stand for the anthem more than 20 years ago, the NBA swooped in and negotiated an agreement with the NBA Players Association to make standing mandatory. End of problem.
Which is precisely what the NFL should have done. But the NFL doesn’t enjoy the kind of relationship with the NFL Players Association that would be conducive to a quick and easy win-win outcome, and the league surely didn’t want to get squeezed into making a concession to players in order to make the problem go away in August 2016.
As a result, the problem lingers. As does the NFL’s reluctance to negotiate the kind of conclusive resolution that would happen if the league and the union would agree that players will stand for the anthem. All because the NFL doesn’t want to give something up to get the outcome it so desperately needs.
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