Fox Sports will not air any live coverage of the national anthem during its Sunday football broadcasts.
The decision came from Fox Sports President Eric Shanks, who claims the network makes it a policy to avoid airing any pre-game ceremonies live because of an agreement with their sponsors.
“The standard procedure is not to show [the anthem] because of the way the commercial format works and the timing of the anthem to get to the kickoff,” Shanks told media. “So I think we’re going to pay attention to events.”
On Sunday, Fox released another statement, saying they would broadcast both The Star Spangled Banner and God Save the Queen from a game taking place in London, but would not show the anthem in any U.S. games:
As we have in previous broadcasts of NFL games from London, Fox will show the National Anthem as well as God Save the Queen live. As is standard procedure, regionalized coverage of NFL game airing on FOX this Sunday will not show the National Anthem live; however, our cameras are always rolling and we will document the response of players and coaches on the field.
Last week, according to Sports Illustrated, the network did air snippets of the national anthem, as more than 250 NFL players “took a knee” to protest inequality, and in response to comments President Donald Trump made, who called on NFL team owners to fire players who used national broadcasts as leftist demonstrations.
Over the course of the week, however, it seemed support for the league-wide protest dwindled. As The Daily Wire reported, NFL brand likability plummeted and viewership tanked, sending league managers scrambling to control the fallout. According to a Seton Hall Sports Poll released this week, nearly 45% of Americans who reported watching football games less often said they turned the channel on the sport over the #TakeTheKnee campaign.
By Friday, teams like the Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints said they would avoid further controversy, remaining inside thier locker rooms during pre-game ceremonies. During Monday and Thursday Night Football broadcasts, teams, including the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, linked arms on the field during the anthem as a sign of team unity, but did not kneel.
Some members of the sports media lashed out at Fox for their decision, accusing the network of trying to hide protests against the President. Matthew Yoder of Awful Announcing, a blog about play-by-play journalism quality, claimed Fox was trying to “back away” from the ongoing #TakeTheKnee saga.