One of the most-discussed moments of Week One of the NFL season will be the national anthem before the Monday night 49ers-Rams game, when Colin Kaepernick is expected to continue his protest and remain seated while other players are standing. But that moment won’t be televised.
ESPN told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated that it normally does not show the national anthem for the late game of the Week One Monday Night Football doubleheader and won’t show it this year either.
That decision is a mistake. Just because the national anthem isn’t ordinarily shown doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shown when there are extenuating circumstances, and in this case there are certainly extenuating circumstances. Telling the story of that game will include showing Kaepernick, showing the other players, and covering any reaction Kaepernick gets from the fans, positive or negative.
Kaepernick’s stance has thrust the national anthem into the national news. ESPN should allow viewers to see that news being made.
UPDATE 1:58 p.m. ET: Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman said the following on an ESPN media call: “The timing is such that, first of all, Kaepernick has to make the 53-man team, and that’s two weeks away, so we don’t know that yet. But the timing is such that because it’s a doubleheader game, we do not cover the Anthem. We will not cover the Anthem live in the second game regardless. However, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t record it and report it. And I think our job, especially with the whole Kaepernick deal, it’s our job to document and report the game. And those who are working on the game, if Kaepernick is on the team and chooses to sit again, I’m sure they’ll get perspective from Kaepernick, they’ll get perspective from Chip Kelly, they’ll get perspective from others and report. So that’s how we’ll handle that in San Francisco.”