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ESPN says it won't broadcast the national anthem during this year's Monday Night Football games
Several Seattle Seahawks players sit on the bench or kneel during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of their NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

ESPN says it won't broadcast the national anthem during this year's Monday Night Football games

ESPN has announced it will not broadcast the national anthem this year during Monday Night Football games.

“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think that will change this year,” ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said in an announcement. “Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem. Again, that could change. It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world but as of now, we’re not. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but as courtesy and good partners we have let them know what our plans are.”

Why is this coming up again?

Pitaro made the comment in light of an ongoing controversy over some players refusing to stand during the national anthem. The first preseason Monday Night Football game takes place on Monday, Aug. 20.

The protests are continuing this year. For example, on Thursday, Several Philadelphia Eagles players chose to not enter the field during the playing of the national anthem.

In May, NFL owners reached a consensus on how to players should conduct themselves during the national anthem. The policy gave players the option of remaining the locker room while the anthem plays. It also included a club fine if its players or personnel are on the field do not stand.

When the new policy was announced in May, some players were angry.

“What NFL owners did today was thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said in a statement at the time. “Everyone loses when voices get stifled.”

In July, the NFL shelved the policy.

Now the NFL is back to square one. The controversy over the anthem began in August 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started a trend by sitting during the anthem as a protest against racial inequality and police brutality. Other teams quickly joined the protest.

Why is this still going on?

Critics say players who refuse to stand at attention during the "Star-Spangled Banner" are disrespecting the country and veterans. President Donald Trump has been one of the most vocal critics of the protests.

In May, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: "We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand — that's all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices."

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