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ESPN announces anthem will not be aired during Monday night games

ESPN announced on Friday that the network will not air the national anthem this season during broadcasts of “Monday Night Football.”

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro revealed the news during ESPN Football Media Day, via Axios’ Sara Fischer.

“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think that will change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem,” Pitaro said.

Pitaro did say the policy could be modified under certain circumstances.

“… again that could change. It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world but as of now, we’re not,” Pitaro said. “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.”

Pitaro also stressed that it’s not ESPN’s obligation to cover politics.

“ESPN is NOT a political organization. It’s not our job to politics, purely, but we’ll cover the intersection of sports & politics,” Pitaro said. “When something happens, when Eagles disinvited from White House, when someone takes a knee, if we think newsworthy were going to cover it.”

ESPN has aired the anthem in the past but sources told The Washington Post that the decision to not do was motivated by allowing more time to cover the game. Interestingly, the network reportedly did not cite the anthem protest movement by players as the reason.

The announcement on “Monday Night Football” anthem policy of courses comes amid the ongoing and polarizing national anthem protest issue that continues to plague the NFL.

A controversial new anthem policy was ratified by owners earlier this year but it has been temporarily shelved amid ongoing deliberations between the NFL and players.