The controversy surrounding ongoing NFL protests against police brutality and racism has prompted action from the league and team owners.
According to CNN, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new policy prohibiting players from kneeling on the field as the national anthem is played before games.
While the demonstrations, which began in 2016 with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick, received widespread support among many civil rights groups and activists, opponents including President Donald Trump cast protesters as unpatriotic.
The NFL’s reaction addresses both concerns, according to Goodell. Owners unanimously approved the new policy that will allow franchises to develop their own rules in compliance with the framework.
League rules will be updated to no longer require players on the field during the anthem. This will allow those who wish to protest to remain in the locker room prior to the game.
“We want people to be respectful to the National Anthem,” Goodell said. “We want people to stand, that’s all personnel, and make sure that they treat this moment in a respectful fashion that’s something I think we owe. We’ve been very sensitive in making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on.”
The announcement came just days after Trump indirectly referenced the controversy by applauding the pre-race tradition at NASCAR events.