- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 15, 2021

The NFL reportedly plans to play the so-called Black national anthem before all its major events in the upcoming season.

As part of a doubling down on its politicking from last season, America’s biggest professional sports league will play “Lift Every Voice And Sing” before all “tentpole events,” according to a report in Front Office Sports.

The site reported, citing unnamed league sources, that those high-profile events will include the NFL Kickoff Game on Sept. 9, all playoff games including the Super Bowl, and the league’s college draft.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” will not replace the national anthem, but instead be played in addition to it, according to the report.

However, those tentpole events are usually the only ones in which “The Star-Spangled Banner” makes it onto the TV broadcasts.

Meaning that every time the league pipes the national anthem into America’s homes this season, it’ll be accompanied by “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Front Office Sports explained.

This leaning in on political demands in a politically polarized nation stands in contrast to most other major professional sports leagues, even the NBA, which is removing most of the on-floor social slogans.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the season now winding down was “an extraordinary moment in time” but “a return to normalcy” is the plan for 2021.

The NFL is going in the other direction and it’s more than the lifting up of the “Black national anthem,” according to the report.

“They’re bringing back a lot of elements from last year,” a source told Front Office Sports, citing matters such as on-field signage, decals on player helmets, and in-stadium PSAs.

New elements also will include a project to highlight victims of purported racism, titled “Say Their Stories.”

“The overarching theme for all of the league’s cause-marketing efforts this season will be: ‘It Takes All Of Us.’ But in-stadium messaging will be more ‘targeted’ this year — culminating with the ‘Inspire Change’ theme during Weeks 17-18,” Front Office Sports wrote.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” has been played at some major NFL events before, such as Super Bowl LV (performed by Alicia Keys) and the 2021 Draft (sung by the Cleveland All-City Choir).

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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