Earlier today the NBA issued an official memo reminding teams and players that they are required to stand during the national anthem. The memo, originally distributed by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, is making it’s rounds in the press after ESPN got it’s hands on a copy. In the letter, Tatum states [via ESPN]:
“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…. [and teams] do not have the discretion to waive [those rules].”
Tatum also suggests that, instead of protesting, teams “include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season”.
At the end of last month, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters
he would continue to enforce the policy, saying “my expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem”.
Considering the reputation of the league and the positions taken by it’s players and coaches, it’s abhorrent that the National Basketball Association finds it fit to tell their employees how they should choose to honor their country. Of course, this is not a new issue. Former commissioner David Stern suspended NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf sitting down during the national anthem when he played for the Denver Nuggets. Abdul-Rauf refused to lie about his beliefs and as a result received death threats, his house was burned down and, on top of that, the NBA fined him.
The NBA’s treatment of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is a stain on their legacy. I find it very sad that, at a time when their actions are needed more than ever, the NBA would choose to double down on such an outdated and disingenuous policy.
Forced patriotism is not patriotism; and honoring the flag should not be turned into a hollow gesture for the sake of optics.
[Photo via the US Air Force website]