‘Patriotism and nationalism are different’ – NFL Players React to New Anthem Policy

Doug Baldwin: ‘It’s kind of ironic to me the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on’ Photograph: Getty Images

Doug Baldwin calls Trump ‘an idiot’ over reaction to protests. Teams will now be fined if players ‘do not respect the flag’


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Patriotism and nationalism are different’: NFL players react to new anthem policy” was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Friday 25th May 2018 15.24 UTC

If the NFL hoped its new national anthem policy would settle the debate about players protesting before games, the league may be disappointed.

On Wednesday, the league issued a ruling agreed by team owners that “a club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem”. Players, however, will be permitted to stay in the locker rooms during the anthem.

Donald Trump, who had attacked players who have knelt during the anthem as a protest against social injustice, treated the new ruling as a victory and said that if someone fails to stand for the anthem “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country”.

The Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who has long spoken up about social issues, had little time for the president’s comments. “He’s an idiot. Plain and simple,” Baldwin said. “I respect the man because he’s a human being first and foremost, but he’s just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or his constituents viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It’s not very American like, actually, to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon. It’s kind of ironic to me the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”

Many players were frustrated that the NFL Players’ Association wasn’t consulted about the new rules. “I mean, they weren’t ever going to engage us anyway. When you really think about it, why would we have a say-so?” Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “I think they should have, right, but I guess they don’t look at us like that, to have a say-so or input in this policy.”

The protest debate is a divisive issues in the United States. Surveys have found the majority of white fans are opposed to the protests while most black fans support them. Many of those who oppose the protests believe they are disrespectful to the military. New Orleans Saints linebacker, whose father served in the military says it is a complicated issue.

“I just think that when you love something you care about it you want to work to get it right. I love my children. When they do wrong things, I’m going to let them know they’re doing wrong things. I’m not just going to sweep it under the rug because I love them,” Davis said. “I think that’s the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Nationalism is loving your country just to love it, you know, even when it’s right or wrong, you’re going to take the side of your country. Patriotism is loving it enough to sacrifice for it, but also to call it [out] when it’s wrong.

“The people who are speaking up for the people who are hurting have a deep love and devotion for our country. That’s kind of gotten misconstrued at times. But it’s important for people to understand that.”

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