A little over a week ago the NFL decided to change its national anthem policy. The league announced that it would require players to stand for the anthem. The new rule was in response to player protest from the season before. The decision drew swift and strong reactions from around the sports world including the NBA, even though the NBA has forced its players to stand for nearly the last two decades.

Where does the NBA rule come from?

More than 20 years ago, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the anthem before a game. Mahmoud said that the flag was a symbol of oppression and that the United States had a history full of tyranny. The NBA was quick to react.

The association quickly stepped in and suspended Abdul-Rauf. Two days later Mahmoud and the NBA worked out a deal where he would stand, but could close his eyes and look down. From there the NBA decided to put in place a rule that required players to stand.

Even though NFL players have kneeled, the NBA’s rule has never been challenged. NBA players have been outspoken off the court, and Commissioner Adam Silver hasn’t stepped in to silence any players. Silver recently announced the rule will stay in place.

“The NFL is in a very different situation than the NBA,” Silver said, referencing the large number of foreign players the NBA has. “We’ve collectively view it as a moment of unity in our arenas.”

Why does it work in the NBA but not the NFL

The NBA and the Players Association have a good relationship and have been able to work through problems in the past. Players have been included in many of the important decisions in the last few years. The NFL is the exact opposite.

The NFL and its player association haven’t gotten along for a while. Issues like contracts and kneeling have forced an even deeper divide between the players and officials. The NFL even forced the new rule through without consulting the Player Association.

The NFL’s Player Association and players have promised to fight the new rule.

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