Behind a growing tide of controversy surrounding the protest by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, ESPN reportedly will follow its regular protocol and not air the national anthem when San Francisco hosts the Los Angeles Rams in the second half of a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader on Sept. 12, according to Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch.
ESPN says they normally would not show national anthem live of the late game of MNF doubleheader and won't for Rams-Niners on Sept. 12.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) August 30, 2016
It’s uncommon for networks to air the national anthem during sporting events and often they cut away to commercials, but the anthem has taken on additional attention in recent days due to Kaepernick.
During the 49ers first three preseason games, Kaepernick has sat on the bench while “The Star Spangled Banner” is played just before kickoff, but his refusal to stand wasn’t noticed until last week’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers when the previously injured 28-year-old made his first appearance of the preseason.
Kaepernick has said he refuses to stand for the anthem while blacks and people of color are oppressed and killed in the streets and that he plans to continue the protest until he sees change.
The decision has sparked intense debate not only around the league but the country, as well. Kaepernick’s received support from the 49ers organization for his right to protest, while New Orleans Saints quarterback and military supporter Drew Brees said he “wholeheartedly disagrees” and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said that he understood Kaepernick’s choice but thinks he “could have picked a better platform.”
It’s possible Kaepernick’s protest doesn’t last very long. Due to injuries, Kaepernick's play has declined precipitously the last two years and the 49ers could release him for football reasons unless they keep him and he's injured. If Kaepernick's unable to pass a physical by April 1, San Francisco could be on the hook for all of his $14.5 million in salary in 2017.