On Jan. 9, NBC said it will keep the cameras rolling on NFL players who kneel to protest racial inequality while the "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
"The Super Bowl is a live event, just like 'Sunday Night Football,'" NBC Sports executive producer Fred Gaudelli said at a Television Critics Association event, the New York Daily News reports. "When you're covering a live event, you're covering what's happening."
"If there are players who choose to kneel, they will be shown live," he added.
In such a scenario, Gaudelli said the broadcasting team would likely give a brief explanation of the protests "and then get on with the game," Fox News reports.
With more than 100 million viewers, the Super Bowl is the year's most-watched U.S. television show, which means the protesters will likely reach their largest audience yet.
As a result, Gaudelli's announcement immediately sparked controversy.
Many condemned NBC for choosing to give the protestors airtime.
"For the first time in decades I won't be watching," wrote one person in Fox News' comments section. "Let them protest on their own time, not when they have a captive and unwilling audience. NBC shouldn't encourage this behavior, they should ignore it."
Gaudelli's reasons for broadcasting the protesters were met with skepticism by others.
"Then I wonder if they will show the prayer circles that happen after most every game for years now?" asked another.
However, a few took a middle ground approach.
"People are free to protest, free to watch the game, free to support the NFL and their team," wrote one person in The Hill's comments section. "I don't care for the game itself, only the commercials, so if I see a protest I'll just watch the commercials later and turn the channel."
"Why hide the news?" wrote another. "If it happens, report it like you see it."
While many disapproved of the network's decision, some praised NBC for their choice.
"Good," wrote one. "Glad to see the networks showing some spine."
"This will be phenomenal for demonstrating to a worldwide audience the democratic concepts upon which this country was founded: the ability to peacefully protest an injustice, as outlined in our Constitution," chimed in another. "Once again, the United States will be the beacon of freedom throughout the world, despite the ignorance and hatred personified by the man-child in the Oval Office."