The NFL is taking its social media crackdown one step further and instituting a new rule that prohibits players from standing for the anthem during the national anthem.
The rule, which was introduced last week, prohibits players who have not taken a knee or are not part of the protest from participating in the national flag-raising.
The league has a long history of protesting the flag-bearers, but this time around the league is trying to prevent the protests from being detrimental to players’ health and well-being.
The NFL Players Association announced the rule change Thursday morning.
The players’ union had opposed a similar rule in 2015, but the players ultimately agreed to the rule in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2015 rule-change that required players to stand for the national anthems.
The decision to enforce the new rule was a difficult one.
The union said in a statement Thursday that it was a decision taken on the basis of feedback from all parties and that “the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players does not require us to follow this path.”
The league had previously asked that players stand during the anthem in order to demonstrate the patriotism and unity of the country.
However, many players said the NFL should instead stand for an anthem that celebrates the American flag and the anthem-related events that occur in the United States.
NFL owners have been more outspoken about protesting the anthem, and in September, the league decided to re-enact a scene in which players kneel during the playing of the national song in an attempt to break the ice.
The new rule, while more subtle than the 2015 and 2018 rule-changes, still makes the players’ protests more difficult to avoid.
Players will now be required to stand at least 5 yards from the sideline, with a line of about 30 yards separating the two.
The team in charge of the player will then signal the players to move to the middle of the field.
Players who don’t comply with the new rules can be fined $25,000 or face a one-game suspension, which could be extended if they continue to participate in the protests.
“The owners have spoken, and the union has agreed to enforce this new rule,” said Adam Schiff, a professor of sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“This new rule will likely be a distraction for the players.
The current protest will remain the same, and it will be even more difficult for the league to control and contain the protests.”
The players association is also pushing for a rule that would prohibit players from being fined if they do not stand for anthem.
Under the new measure, if a player is fined for not sitting down during the protest, he or she will have to forfeit the next 10 regular-season games, the playoffs and the AFC title game, according to a league source.
The first player to miss a game would be the first to be suspended, according the source.
In the new regulation, the NFL says players will be fined up to $25 million for each offense, which will be divided between the league and the NFLPA, the union that represents players.