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Fox won’t show national anthem again this week, Fox Sports prez says

Eric Shanks is President, Chief Operating Officer and

Eric Shanks is President, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Producer of Fox Sports. Credit: Michael Becker

Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said the network does not plan to show national anthems live at its NFL games on Sunday, the way it did last weekend, when some players took a knee and many executives, coaches and players locked arms before games.

“The standard procedure is not to show them because of the way the commercial format works and the timing of the anthem to get to the kickoff,” Shanks said Tuesday at an event to promote Fox’s soccer coverage of the 2018 World Cup. “So I think we’re going to pay attention to events.

“Who knows what’s going to happen? A lot of time is happening between now and then. But I think the plan would be to get back to a normal schedule. I think that’s where we sit today on a Tuesday . . . It seems like there’s more than 24 hours in a day now, doesn’t there?”

NFL ratings have become political, with people from both sides of the divide trying to parse data for signs of how recent events might be hurting the league and its TV partners — or not. It is a complicated subject, and too soon to draw many conclusions. But Shanks is cautiously optimistic.

“We are all on the same page in that we’re taking it in stride,” Shanks said. “This has been probably one of the more bizarre starts to the season that we have ever had . . . What we’re looking at right now is the progress that the consumption is making week over week.”

Shanks said some observers are making an assortment of comparisons year-to-year “to make the numbers look a certain way,” but that Fox is trying to focus on the bigger picture, including several late-afternoon Cowboys games that are certain to provide a ratings boost.

“We always knew that our schedule was stacked at a certain part of the season,” he said. “I think we’re optimistic knowing that and seeing the progress that the league is making. Everybody has their opinion on what’s going on.”

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