Once again the NFL’s National Anthem controversy has reentered the world of sports. It began last week when the NFL and NFL Players Association said that they were halting enforcement of all anthem rules as a result of a situation with players from the Miami Dolphins. President Donald Trump then tweeted that:
“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”
This has been one of many instances where Trump has given his comments regarding this controversy. The league, including their players, is under no obligation to obey any of the commands that come from the White House (see: The First Amendment). But given the recent decline in NFL ratings and the desire it has to improve and sustain its image, putting forth a policy that at least tried to reign in the tension wrapped up in this polarizing issue made sense. As a result, a policy was put forward that a fine would be levied at players who kneel for the National Anthem, but players planning on doing so could remain in the locker room for the duration of the song. Trump seemed to approve of this new policy, but then came the news from the league and the NFLPA. Thus, the aforementioned tweet from Trump was made.
Many people do not care for the way that the president has injected himself into the National Anthem debate. A poll from last year indicated that the number of people wanting Trump to continue commenting on the NFL player protests had significantly decreased. Some referred to the policy of remaining in the locker room as the NFL “caving” to the Trump administration. But if athlete protests are no place for a president in particular, or government in general, to attempt to impose their will, what other areas should government at all levels avoid this kind of heavy handedness? Here are some examples:
-Governments should not be involved in setting a minimum wage for workers. This is especially the case considering the focus of the NFL anthem protests (disadvantages racial minorities) are so often the victims of minimum wage laws.
-Governments should not be involved in bailing out private entities no matter how big they are or how big a crisis the economy is going through.
-Governments should not be involved in subsidizing private businesses or entities regardless of how virtuous the private business is alleged to be.
-Governments should not be involved in banning sharing services like Uber or Air B&B. What private owners decide to do with their own property is none of the government’s business unless it directly harms someone.
-Governments should not be involved in creating occupational licensing that limits competition to protect a privileged few.
-Governments should not be involved in sending money overseas in the form of foreign aid.
-Governments should not be involved in telling a business who it can or cannot provide a product or service to.
-Governments should not be involved in dictating the health insurance that employers must provide employees.
-Governments should not be involved in dictating to individuals how to defend themselves.
These are just some of the examples of areas where government is involved where it should not be. Considering this frequent interference, should it really be a surprise when the president intervenes in the matter of a private entity like the NFL? Expecting solutions from the state only further causes those who represent it to attempt to make right all the perceived wrongs of society. Thus, Trump’s consistent addressing of the National Anthem issue is merely a symptom of society’s dependence on the government to soothe the things which make us uncomfortable. Relying on those with political power to rid our culture of its ills is certainly not a new phenomenon. It’s definitely time that those within society to stop looking to the state in this way.