We, the undersigned members of the Sports Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association, strongly condemn the National Football League’s new national anthem policy. The policy, announced Wednesday, May 23, 2018, allows the league to fine or penalize teams when players choose to protest during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We stand in solidarity with athletes who use their public positions to call attention to systemic anti-black violence and racial terror, and, in the strongest terms possible, we reject any notion that players’ symbolic actions show disrespect for the nation or its veterans. The NFL’s policy, which purportedly preserves the athletes’ agency by allowing them to remain in the locker room during the anthem, reinforces the idea that the players—the majority of whom are African American—are to be seen (on the field) and not heard: that they constitute little more than disposable objects of violent consumption whose lives beyond the stadium do not matter. As sports studies scholars, we recognize that the NFL’s new policy capitulates to a larger wave of overtly racist actions perpetrated by the Trump government and its allies even as it reflects longstanding historical patterns within the sport that perpetuate white male patriarchal authority and incumbent anti-black racism. We reject such a retrograde vision for this country and its sporting spaces. Instead, we stand with players who continue to call attention to injustice, oppression, and violence, and who offer a more inclusive, more democratic vision not only for football but also for American society.

Lucia Trimbur, The City University of New York (CUNY)

Noah Cohan, Washington University in St. Louis

Jaime Schultz, Pennsylvania State University

Daniel A. Gilbert, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jeffrey Lawrence, Rutgers University

Emily Ruth Rutter, Ball State University

Andrew McGregor, Purdue University

Jermaine Scott, Northwestern University

Brett Siegel, University of Texas at Austin

Nicholas E. Miller, Valdosta State University

Thomas P. Oates, University of Iowa

Matthew Klugman, Victoria University

John E. Price, Pennsylvania State University

Jennifer Doyle, University of California, Riverside

Daniel A. Nathan, Skidmore College

Amy Bass, The College of New Rochelle

Katherine Mooney, Florida State University

David J Leonard, Washington State University

Rudy Mondragón, University of California, Los Angeles

Amira Rose Davis, Pennsylvania State University

Erica Rand, Bates College

Peter Benson, Washington University in St. Louis

José M. Alamillo, California State University Channel Islands

Jennifer McClearen, University of Texas at Austin

Erin C. Tarver, Emory University, Oxford College

Travis Vogan, University of Iowa

Margaret S. Kelley, University of Kansas

Theresa Runstedtler, American University

Laura Troiano, Rutgers University, Newark

Annie Gilbert Coleman, University of Notre Dame

Kyle Green, The College at Brockport, State University of New York

Jonathan Barz, University of Dubuque

Jennifer Guiliano, IUPUI

Steven Waller, University of Tennessee

John Bloom, Shippensburg University

Roberta Newman, New York University

Victoria E. Johnson, University of California, Irvine

Eric Allen Hall, Northern Illinois University

Millery Polyné, New York University

Lisa Doris Alexander, Wayne State University

Maryam Aziz, University of Michigan

Andrew Harrington, Irvine Valley College

Ellen J. Staurowsky, Drexel University

Tyran Kai Steward, Carleton College

Post date: May 24, 2018