The NFL denied ad space in their Super Bowl 53 program to the group American Veterans after the group declined to alter language about standing for the national anthem.
The AMVETS ad featured two soldiers in uniform holding the American flag with the hashtag “#PleaseStand.” The message targets NFL players who have taken to kneeling during the national anthem over the last two seasons to raise awareness of social and racial injustice.
AMVETS, an organization that was founded in 1944 has more than 250,000 members nationwide. AMVETS exists to enhance the quality of life for all veterans, their families and survivors by reintegrating veterans and helping them find employment, as well as offering scholarships.
Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesperson, reported that the league asked AMVETS to consider changing the text to say, “Please Honor our Veterans” or “Please Stand for our Veterans.” AMVETS and the NFL were unable to reach an agreement in time to meet the deadline for program production.
Robert Rohde, President of AMVETS Chapter 13 based out of Redgranite, WI, was disappointed to hear the league’s decision.
“A vast majority of the veterans just don’t watch NFL anymore,” Rohde said. “Why should we even waste our time watching the game?”
Rohde, who spent two years overseas in the United States Air Force, expressed dismay over the treatment of veterans, “A guy protecting a football wears a helmet and makes millions of dollars. A guy protecting our country wears a helmet and doesn’t even make $1000 a month.”
While the NFL denied the ad, two other major sports leagues, the NBA and the NHL accepted it for use in programs for their All-Star Games.
Devon Sindelar, senior forestry major and member of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Veterans Club, supports the player’s right to kneel during the national anthem, but questions why the AMVETS add got denied.
“Why are they censoring us? What did we do?” Sindelar said.
Sindelar served in the marine corps for over five years.
“It kind of splits everyone. I think they’re two really good things we should be able to get behind,” Sindelar said.
Olivia De Valk