NFL Camera Operators Told not to Show Booing Crowd When Players Knelt During Anthem

Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Aesthetics are everything to a message, and it wouldn’t do well if the networks showed the NFL kneelers — the media’s latest favorite fad — receiving boos and disapproving shouts while it was going on.


That’s why networks ordered camera crews that were filming Sunday and Monday’s NFL games to avoid shots of the angry crowds insider sources told Michael McCarthy of Sporting News:

One behind-the-scenes TV staffer at another stadium told Sporting News that camera operators were ordered to avoid crowd shots in case they showed fans counterprotesting the protests.

NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN pay billions each year to televise live NFL games. The league saw this weekend’s unprecedented anthem coverage as a golden opportunity to demonstrate unity among players, coaches and owners — and opposition to Trump’s comments.

Of course, in today’s era, when everyone and their dog has a camera that can display anything to everyone at that very moment, that “golden opportunity to demonstrate unity” narrative was bound to collapse faster than a house of cards in a wind tunnel.

What really went on in the stadium during Sunday’s game can be clearly seen thanks to a video by the Associated Press. Fans can be heard booing loudly as players knelt or sat during the anthem. Shouts of “stand up” can also be heard.


The National Anthem is not usually shown via television networks before football games, but networks have made the decision to show them due to the amount of attention the kneelers draw. While much attention is given to the kneelers, the angry crowd is hardly shown at all.

Despite this, CBS spokeswoman Jennifer Sabatelle denies that network camera crews were told not to show the crowd.

“The anthem was covered by each crew in their own way, with many choosing to stay with what was happening on the field,” Sabatelle told Sporting News. “There was no directive given to not show the fans.”

But there are no good shots of the crowd. Not for this game, or others. Boos can clearly be heard as ESPN’s Sean McDonough noted during Monday night’s Cowboy-Cardinal game, but crews did not pull away from the kneeling players to show the fans.

Those shots would have been replayed endlessly from many a blog, social media account, and talk show. Fan reactions would have been click gold. Yet we continuously see nothing.

McCarthy noticed that CBS wasn’t showing the angry crowd when the kneelers did their thing during the anthem before Jets-Dolphins game as well.


McCarthy also noted cameras avoided the crowd at the Giants-Eagles game as well:

During the singing of the anthem before Giants-Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Fox stuck to up-close, ground-up shots of players, coaches and owners. The only image of fans was one long shot showing them clapping before the network cut to commercial.

Again, the story of fans who were not enamored of Sunday’s anthem protests were out there if TV networks wanted to show us. The reactions of those fans should have been a bigger story.

He’s not at all wrong. At the end of the day, the game boils down to the reactions and love of the fans, yet the networks seem to be avoiding showing how the fans feel about the kneelers. Videos and commentary articles about the NFL players are flooding the internet, yet no major network has covered them nearly as much as the kneeling players, if they have at all.


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