ESPN said on Friday that it would not show the national anthem before the “Monday Night Football” games it broadcasts this season, even as the debate over player protests continues. Though the N.F.L. has been criticized by President Trump, sponsors and ...
ESPN will not show the national anthem before its “Monday Night Football” games this season.CreditCharles Krupa/Associated Press
Aug. 17, 2018
ESPN said on Friday that it would not show the national anthem before the “Monday Night Football” games it broadcasts this season, even as the debate over player protests continues.
Though the N.F.L. has been criticized by President Trump, sponsors and fans for not penalizing players who kneel during the anthem, Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s president, told reporters the league did not pressure the network. Pitaro said the N.F.L. was informed of the decision as a courtesy.
This was consistent with how ESPN handled similar situations in prior years, he said.
The anthem has become a flashpoint in the two seasons since the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling to shine a light on police brutality and other forms of social injustice. The issue triggered a national debate, with some fans and the president accusing the players of being unpatriotic.
Stung by the criticism, the league in May changed its policy, making it mandatory for players to stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room, or face potential penalties from their teams. Previously, it was only suggested that players stand for the anthem.
The new policy triggered yet another backlash, with some players saying they would continue to protest, and some owners, most notably Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, saying their players had to stand. In the uproar, the N.F.L. decided to freeze its new policy and seek ways to modify it in negotiations with the N.F.L. Players Association, which had filed a grievance against the league for “unilaterally changing its policy.”
In the past, most networks typically went to commercial while the anthem was being played. But in the past two seasons, they have at times showed the anthem because it was newsworthy.
CBS and NBC, which also broadcast N.F.L. games, have not responded to requests for comment.
Fox, which recently acquired the rights to show games on Thursday nights, as well as on Sundays, has shown the anthem before games in London and during the playoffs. At other games on Sundays, the anthem has not been shown live. Instead, the network has kept its cameras rolling so that if something notable occurred, it could be shown after the commercial break.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page D4 of the New York edition with the headline: ESPN Won’t Show Anthem at Monday Games. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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