Story at a glance

  • Demonstrating against systemic racism in the U.S., the Miami Dolphins will wait in the locker room during the national anthem.
  • Each player discusses systemic racism in the U.S.

The Miami Dolphins have decided to stay indoors instead of heading to the field for the pregame national anthem before their debut against the New England Patriots this weekend.

The Dolphins plan to stay in the locker room during the anthem as a protest against what they call the NFL’s “empty gestures” regarding civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

ESPN analyst Jay Williams posted a video featuring Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and multiple players, such as Byron Jones, Ted Karras and Kyle Van Noy reciting a spoken word poem confirming that they will “stay inside” rather than participate in the pregame ceremony.

In the video, Dolphins players speak out about prison and criminal justice reform, a lack of promised funding in Black communities, police brutality and other U.S. institutions mired with systemic racism. The players, a mix of Black and white athletes, each call for a stop to the “fluff” and sympathetic showboating, calling for serious political change.


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“If we remain silent, that would just be selfish. Since they don't have a voice, we’ll speak up for the helpless,” one player says. 

Central to the Dolphins’s dialogue was etiquette during the national anthem. The protests have roiled sports leagues since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem before games during the 2016 season to protest racism and police brutality.

One player in the Dolphins video underscored the divide many Black football players and players of color feel when standing in silence as the national anthem plays. He asks, “So if my dad was a soldier, but the cops killed my brother, do I stand for one anthem, and then kneel for the other?”


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The Bleacher Report writes that the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song with historical ties to the African American community, is set to play in NFL stadiums across the country during the Week 1 games, right before the national anthem. 

For the players, this is another “symbolic victory.”

One verse reveals the team’s position on the song, saying that “Lift every voice and sing is just a way to save face.” Rather than another anthem included in the pregame ceremonies, players demand NFL leaders to use their money and influence to exert more political pressure on legislators to enact reforms that will help correct centuries of institutionalized racism.

The NFL implemented a rule following Kaepernick’s demonstration saying that teams can either remain in locker rooms or be present and standing on the pitch during the national anthem. 

"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem," commissioner Roger Goodell previously said.

Regardless, social justice in professional football has only accelerated. During the NFL kickoff game on Thursday, the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs locked arms to show unity. The fans in attendance booed and cheered in response to the demonstration. 


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Published on Sep 11, 2020