NFL should have taken lesson from NBA's handling of anthem controversy, Batinick says
The NFL could have taken a lesson from the NBA in how to deal with protests over the national anthem, an Illinois state representative said during a recent interview.
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) recently recalled the former Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf's refusal to stand for the national anthem during the 1995-96 season.
"The kibosh was put on that pretty quick," Batinick told the Will County Gazette.
Abdul-Rauf was suspended and fined by the NBA, and he was traded at season's end to the Sacramento Kings but he lost playing time, his starting spot and, when his contract expired in 1998, no other NBA team wanted him. Abdul-Rauf was done at 29.
That certainly sent a message to NBA players and should have been a lesson for the NFL, Batinick said.
"So I think the NFL is actually behind the curve here, not ahead of it," he said.
Batinick was first elected to Illinois' 97th House District in 2014 when he soundly defeated Democrat Moira K. Dunn, taking more than 56 percent of the vote, after the incumbent Democrat Dennis Grosskopf dropped out of the race. Batinick was unopposed when he ran for re-election in 2016 and he was unopposed during the Republican primary this past March. He faces a challenge from Democrat Mica Freeman in November's General Election.
The Illinois 97th House District is within Kendall and Will counties.
In May, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league's national anthem policy for 2018. The policy requires players and league personnel who are on the sidelines before a game begins to stand for the national anthem, but allows them the option to remain in the locker room until after the anthem is played if they don't care to stand during the anthem.
"The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice," said the NFL policy statement that accompanied the announcement of the national anthem policy. "The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities."
The NFL's national anthem policy probably provides players and league personnel far more latitude than it should, Batinick said.
"Here's the way I look at it," Batinick said during his Will County Gazette interview. "The NFL players are free to protest all they want on their own time. Imagine if people started protesting, imagine if teachers and firefighters and the people that work at McDonald's, imagine if people started protesting at work, I think most of them would lose their jobs."
As for himself, Batinick said he knows what he'll do during the performance of the national anthem.
"The last thing I'll say about it is that I'll always stand for the national anthem," he said.