Contrary to Grant Osborn’s (19C) recent column, the NFL is not silencing conservative speech. The NFL forbids athletes from altering their uniforms in remembrance of 9/11 and the 2016 mass shooting of Dallas police because it has strict uniform policies, not because it has a political agenda.
I was horrified that this article categorized mourning 9/11 and the 2016 Dallas shooting as conservative positions rather than American ones. Liberal or conservative, we all grieve for lives lost — acts of remembrance are patriotic, not partisan. The NFL allowed Colin Kaepernick to kneel but opposed other expressions of mourning which violated its regulations. NFL uniforms cannot be altered to display personal causes, a reasonable requirement since uniforms constitute part of the NFL brand that athletes are paid to represent. The NFL only suggests, rather than mandates, that athletes stand during the anthem; if Kaepernick had attempted to alter his uniform, he too would have faced penalties.
Osborn’s other example of NFL censorship of “conservative speech” was the threat to exclude Atlanta from Super Bowl host consideration should Georgia have passed the euphemistically-termed “religious liberty” bill. In effect, that law would have legalized anti-LGBT discrimination. Unless there are no gay or allied NFL employees or fans, the NFL has a vested interest in preventing that legislation’s passage. If the bill had succeeded, the NFL should have avoided choosing Atlanta to host the Super Bowl as the inevitable boycott by fans and advertisers would have significantly reduced revenues.
The NFL is not favoring liberal thought over conservative thought. Instead, it is merely upholding its rules and prioritizing its brand. The NFL allowed Kaepernick’s protest because it was within the rules. Should players take a knee to commemorate 9/11 or the 2016 Dallas shootings, that too would be a permissible expression of the athletes’ views. Accusation of censorship should not be made idly, so consider all the facts before declaring the NFL discriminatory.
Charlotte Selton is a College sophomore from Sacramento, Calif.