Civil War Era Studies
No law requires the playing of the National Anthem at the outset of professional sporting events. Also, no law requires people to stand when the anthem is played, or that people to sing along—although federal law does mandate that we “should face the flag and stand at attention . . . right hand over the heart,” and that “men not in uniform . . . should remove their headdress with their right hand” (36 U.S. Code § 301).
But there is nothing in the statute which says that one cannot use posture as a means for what ESPN called “demonstrating for social justice.” So it is not clear what daring thing the owners, coaches, and players of the National Football League thought they were doing Sunday when they collectively took a knee or raised clenched fists while the “The Star Spangled Banner” was played. (excerpt)
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Guelzo, Allen. "The Rusher Who Wouldn't Take the Knee." American Greatness (September 25, 2017).