The NFL has been at the forefront of social activism in recent years, particularly surrounding protests during the pre-game national anthem.
Now, the league has announced its intention to make the so-called Black national anthem a regular feature of games.
“We were wrong for not listening”
As Breitbart explained, the NFL appears poised to intensify social justice activism among its players rather than back off from the controversial displays.
The hymn Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is commonly known as the Black national anthem, was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson. Following widespread civil unrest last summer, the NFL decided to play the song prior to all of its Week 1 games.
In a statement in June 2020, the NFL accepted responsibility for what it deemed an insufficient response to complaints, asserting: “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”
This year, the league is reportedly looking to take it a step further by playing the song any time that the national anthem is played, which would include during special broadcasts, playoffs, and the Super Bowl, among other events.
For its part, NBC indicated that it will broadcast both anthems when they are played during games broadcasted on the network.
NFL doubles down
In addition to the inclusion of the Black national anthem, the NFL has announced other ways it will be ramping up social activism.
Viewers can reportedly expect to see messaging on players’ helmets and on the field, including themes like “It Takes All of Us,” “End Racism,” and “Inspire Change.”
Furthermore, players will be permitted to engage in demonstrations as long as they are “peaceful,” meaning viewers can expect to see an increase in such protests by activist athletes.
Of course, some critics have asserted that the NFL’s social justice push is responsible for sagging ratings in recent years.
During the 2020 season, the league experienced a roughly 8% drop in the ratings — dropping to just over 15 million viewers on average. It remains to be seen whether the latest approach will attract new fans or simply drive more viewers away from the league.