ST. AUGUSTA – The American Legion in St. Augusta will not air National Football League games in its bar “until further notice” in response to the league’s stance on players taking a knee during the national anthem.

Post Commander Mike Zenzen says the decision was made Wednesday following a vote by St. Augusta American Legion Post 621 members.

“(Suspending broadcasts) wasn’t a leadership decision – it was our legion membership,” he explained. “We discussed it and it passed.”

The act of taking a knee was started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 as a reaction to police violence against people of color. In June, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized for the league's previous position on players taking a knee and expressed support for the action.

Zenzen says legion members see the matter differently.

“We’ve served our country,” Zenzen explained. “We fought under the flag of the United States of America, and the National Anthem is part of that. We stand for the flag, the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. It means a lot to veterans.”

Zenzen says the decision might not be permanent; NFL games could return to the legion if and when the NFL’s position on players taking a knee changes.

“We hope this is temporary,” he said. “We hope some of the players and teams find a different way to protest. Instead of kneeling during the National Anthem, why not take five or 10 seconds and kneel after the National Anthem? That would be a step forward.”

The issue now, Zenzen says, is whether or not the decision will affect the Legion’s bottom line.

“People like to go to the bar and watch football games,” he said. “It may have a financial impact on our legion. Or, it might be a plus. We just don’t know yet. My biggest worry is people who will now start going somewhere else and keep going somewhere else.”

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he added.

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