Across the country, high school football players appear to be taking a cue from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and declining to stand for the national anthem, MSN is reporting.
It appears that Colin Kaepernick has started something of a movement. You may recall that on August 26, Kaepernick made headlines after he stayed seated during the national anthem. As NFL.com reported at the time, Kaepernick said that he was protesting police brutality.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Needless to say, Kaepernick’s decision aroused quite a bit of controversy. Kaepernick’s own team tried to distance itself from the quarterback’s protest, issuing a statement that said, in effect, that though they support Colin’s free speech rights, they also described the national anthem as a “special part of the pre-game ceremony.”
Kaepernick’s protest soon caught on with other professional athletes. Women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe chose to take a knee rather than stand for the national anthem at a September 4 game, according to American Soccer Now. Similarly, Kaepernick’s 49ers teammate Eric Reid and the Seattle Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane have both been spotted kneeling, as opposed to standing, during the national anthem.
Now, it appears, the movement started by Kaepernick is extending to high school sports.
In Norfolk, Virginia, according to the Virginia Pilot, “most” of the members of the team from Maury High School knelt, rather than stood, during the national anthem Friday night.
— Norfolk VA (@NorfolkVArr) September 10, 2016
Coach Chris Fraser, who, along with a handful of player, remained standing, said that he stands (so to speak) behind his players who chose not to stand.
“Our school system has said, we’re of the belief, we let our guys do what they believe in. And so we didn’t make an issue of it, and if they believe in a cause, that’s fine. I stand behind what they believe in, but I’m going to do what I believe in.”
The protest by Lincoln Southeast High School (Nebraska) players wasn’t nearly as wide-spread as the protest in Virginia; only two players – one white, one African American – took a knee.
In Louisville, “a number” of players took a knee before the national anthem, but then stood up as the music started playing. One player remained kneeling.
— Holden Kurwicki (@WHAS11Holden) September 9, 2016
And in Rockford, Illinois, a handful of players knelt while their teammates stood with their hands over their hearts.
Young men from Auburn High School in Rockford, Illinois take a knee for injustice in America. pic.twitter.com/MZfKYOwjqz
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 10, 2016
In case you were wondering, Colin Kaepernick himself took notice of the protests and retweeted photos of the kneeling high schoolers on his personal Twitter account.
Of course, whether or not those young men across the country are doing the right thing by refusing to stand for the national anthem depends largely on whom you ask.
Writing a guest column for the Rockford Register Star, Rev. Michael Thomas says that, right or wrong, the decision of those who choose not to stand for the national anthem must be respected.
“The derogatory responses against his sitting reflect a lack of tolerance. We all have the right to stand or sit (Rosa Parks). The derogatory response to Kaepernick reflects a lack of love for the other, the neighbor, friend or enemy (Jesus said something about love).”
Do you support the right of high schoolers to refuse to stand for the national anthem?
[Image via Shutterstock/AstroStar]