New York, May 24 – Executives and owners in the National Football League softened their stance today on player behavior during the traditional singing of the Star Spangled Banner before games, suggesting that if any player objects to remaining on his feet during the song, he may instead choose to stand for Hatikvah, the national anthem of of the State of Israel.
The league announced Wednesday that it would not tolerate players kneeling or otherwise not displaying the proper respect for the flag and country, but backtracked this morning in a statement that would permit the behavior on the condition that first, any such players stand at attention for the Israeli anthem. Player representatives have yet to offer any official response to the move.
“The National Football League is a corporation, not a government, and therefore not bound by the First Amendment’s free expression provisions,” explained NFL spokesman Rod Trollman. “We avoid injecting politics into sports, a phenomenon that our fans have shown they dislike. However, given the societal benefits of displaying social responsibility, the owners and league executives are willing to tolerate some expressions of perceived injustice. To that end, we are prepared to allow players to salute the Israeli flag and anthem instead.”
“The flag and anthem of Israel,” he continued, “represent a suitable alternative, in our assessment. Israel is one of America’s closest allies, a staunch outpost of democracy and freedom in region notorious for totalitarianism and repression. Its story is one of an indigenous people, long a persecuted minority, reasserting its sovereignty in its ancestral homeland despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. NFL players who have overcome adversity to achieve their dreams of competing in the most elite football league in the world will surely be able to identify with Israel if acknowledging the American symbols poses too much of a challenge.”
Analysts foresee a cool reception for the offer among players. “It’s going to be confusing,” predicted commentator Red Herring. “I’m sure many will appreciate the Israeli anthem for its smaller vocal range that makes it easier to sing than The Star Spangled Banner, but there are other considerations. For example, someone will have to keep track of the individual players and whether they’ve already stood for the first anthem before they would be allowed not to stand for the second. We can’t assign that additional work to the on-field officials; it’s beneath their dignity. I see too much potential for mix-ups in this.”
“I would humbly suggest a variation that has an outside organization monitor compliance. I’m sure we can find people with time on their hands at Black Lives Matter, for example,” he added.
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