Beyonce And Jay-Z Did Not Stand For Super Bowl National Anthem

Demi Lovato's performance of the national anthem at the 2020 Super Bowl has been lauded as one of the best of all time. She nailed "The Star-Spangled Banner" in a way that only a truly talented singer could. However, while many fans were left buzzing about her performance, others were focused on the fact that Beyonce and Jay-Z, who were in attendance at one of the biggest and most viewed sports events of the year, did not stand during the anthem.

"The Carters [Jay-Z, Beyonce, and their daughter, Blue Ivy] were sitting together a few rows back from the field, and they clearly didn't make an effort to get up during Demi Lovato's performance," TMZ reported. "A guy who appears to be a bodyguard of theirs was standing though, as was pretty much everyone else around them."

The celebrity couple's actions were seemingly in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who, The New York Times explains, "first declined to stand during the national anthem in 2016 as a protest against social injustice, especially the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police. He left the team at the end of the season and hasn't been hired by an N.F.L. team since."

While Beyonce and Jay-Z's actions during the Super Bowl National Anthem may make it seem like they're fully behind Kaepernick, this comes after Jay-Z signed a deal with the football organization that some felt betrayed Kaepernick and what he stands (or, rather, kneels) for. Let's take a closer look.

Jay-Z said 'yes' and 'no' to the Super Bowl

Beyonce and Jay-Z's decision to sit during the national anthem at the 2020 Super Bowl carries added weight because it follows the rapper's decision to align himself directly with the NFL. In 2019, Jay-Z struck a deal "that gives [him] influence over the league's most important music events, including the halftime show," The New York Times reported.

While the move raised eyebrows, Jay-Z justified his choice. "I think that we forget that Colin [Kaepernick]'s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice so in that case this is a success — this is the next thing," he said, per TMZ. "There's two parts of protest: the protest, and then there's a company or individual saying 'I hear you, what do we do next?' For me it's about actionable items, what are we gonna do about it?"

Although Jay-Z said yes to the NFL partnership, it turns out that he turned down the league when it asked him to perform during the Super Bowl years ago. He admits that he would have accepted the offer, but the organization asked him for something he couldn't do: Promise to bring Kanye West and Rihanna along for a performance of "Run this Town." Jay-Z explained his decision to The New York Times: "I said, 'No, you get me.' That is not how you go about it, telling someone that they're going to do the halftime show contingent on who they bring. I said forget it. It was a principle thing." 

Principle or not, it hasn't calmed the buzz about his relationship with the NFL.

Jay-Z and Beyonce's relationship with the NFL stirred up strong reactions

Jay-Z's actions have certainly made people question his choices. "When this partnership was announced, it was received by some as a betrayal of Colin Kaepernick," reported The New York Times. That may be why Jay-Z decided to show his support for the former football star by remaining seated during the national anthem at Super Bowl LIV. Whatever his intention, the fact that both he and Beyonce did not stand has stirred up strong reactions.

"Beyonce & Jay-Z remain seated during National Anthem...That disrespect aside — she has sung the national anthem & performed 2 halftime shows, yet she couldn't find it in her to support [Demi] Lovato who suffered through many struggles? SMH," tweeted one social media user. Another took a different stance, writing: "LOL at conservatives losing their sh*t over Beyonce and Jay-Z not standing for the anthem. Maybe if you guys would also take several seats and pay attention to actual injustice America would be better."

Not everyone felt like the situation was a big deal. One person tweeted: "You shouldn't care about Beyonce and Jay-Z not standing for the anthem because; 1. People were seated while watching at home 2. People were seated at the stadium 3. It's a football game, not a military funeral 4. Who gives a f***?" That's one way (or four ways) to look at it..." 

Beyonce and Jay-Z aren't the only ones to protest during the national anthem

Beyonce and Jay-Z may be the latest high-profile figures to refrain from standing during the national anthem, but they're certainly not the first. Others celebs have shown their support for Colin Kaepernick, and some have even followed his lead by using their actions to try to raise awareness.

San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid decided to take a knee alongside Kaepernick, explaining in an op-ed for The New York Times: "It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag, and military personnel. We chose it because it's exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest." Reid added, "It should go without saying that I love my country and I'm proud to be an American. But, to quote James Baldwin, 'exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.'"

Whether fans like it or not, the NFL apparently agrees that players have the right to express themselves.

The NFL supports the right to protest during the national anthem

Colin Kaepernick no longer plays in the NFL — he spent Super Bowl Sunday providing meals and clothes to the needy — but the NFL claims to support his controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem.

His former team, the 49ers, released a statement in the midst of the backlash directed at Kaepernick in 2016: "The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

The team's coach, Chip Kelly, noted that it's Kaepernick's "right as a citizen" to not stand. He added, "[I]t's not my right to tell him not to do something."

The NFL as a whole also released a statement backing Kaepernick's choice, as well as the decisions of anyone else who wants to protest, explaining that "[p]layers are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."

While it might not be against the rules, refusing to stand for the national anthem is still a polarizing decision, as indicated by the strong reaction to Beyonce and Jay-Z sitting during the song at the 2020 Super Bowl.