The NBA sent a memo that reiterated the rule that all players and coaches must stand during the pregame playing of the United States national anthem.
Just one day after NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that he expects players to stand during the playing of the United States national anthem before each game due to a preexisting rule, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum issued a memo to all 30 teams on Friday night reinforcing this rule.
The memo states the following:
“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…[Individual teams] do not have the discretion to waive [the rule].”
The memo also mentions that the NBA has the right to discipline players and coaches who do not adhere to this rule and instead still make the decision to sit or kneel during the playing of the anthem.
In the memo, Tatum also included the following in regard to how teams should address the current political climate in ways other than protesting the anthem:
“This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season.”
National anthem protests have really heated up and been in the headlines over this past week, and they have been on the radar in the sports world for over a year now since when Colin Kaepernick began protesting during the anthem during the 2016 NFL preseason.
The NBA is doing what it can to prevent the controversy that will most assuredly come about if players start protesting the national anthem. They are also attempting to prevent the boycotts by fans that would inevitably follow if players protest.
While some may claim that the NBA is shutting down the players’ freedom of speech, which could become controversial in itself, with this rule, this is actually not true.
Why? Because what many people don’t understand is that the First Amendment does not cover the rights of employees of private companies to speak against their employers, which is essentially what a national anthem protest is, especially given the fact that the NBA has made clear that there is a preexisting rule in place against such protests.
Do you think the NFL will introduce a rule to prevent players and coaches from protesting during the national anthem anytime soon?