When the controversy first started last season when Colin Kaepernick began his peaceful protest, I always wondered how’d I react if I saw a student-athlete kneeling during the national anthem before a game. I think shock would be the first emotion. Then, being the journalist that I am, I’d take out my camera, take the shot, and pray that when it publishes, the wave of fury doesn’t drown us both.
A year and some change later, I’ve yet to cover a game where an athlete did something out of the norm. Full disclosure, I’m one man, so I can’t (and obviously haven’t) been to every game for every school all at once, so if it did happen, I just missed it.
But after the weekend of Trump versus the NFL, I wanted to see if perhaps there would be an athlete that decides to kneel.
So far, that doesn’t appear that’s the case.
So what’s the deal, do high school athletes in the Gonzales County area all agree the national anthem should be respected? Maybe some agree. But odds are, they all don’t.
But for the real answer, you’ll have to take a look at college athletics. You see, coaches there have the power to take away playing time, scholarships, etc. High school is the same way. All the control is up above. Players have none.
To be clear, I’m not making any allegations on the coaching staffs here in the county. I have not talked to anyone about any directive when it comes to the anthem. But if I was a high school athlete and not necessarily a “star” player, I wouldn’t be kneeling.
Look at the recent news out of Louisiana. Parkway High School Principal Waylon Bates sent out a memo stating that the school requires student athletes to “stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is participating. Failure to comply will result in removal from the team.”
Since that bit of news went viral, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have come out against statements such as Bates’.
In a statement written on Twitter a few days ago, ACLU stated the “Supreme Court rule that students don’t have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance — that goes for the national anthem on the ballfield too.”
Friday night, two football players here in Texas were kicked off the team for their protest during the anthem.
Per the Houston Chronicle, Victory Praise & Christian’s Cedric Ingram-Lewis raised his fist while his cousin, Larry McCullough, knelt during the anthem. Once the anthem ended, Victory’s head coach Ronnie Mitchem told the players to take off their uniforms and immediately dismissed them from the team.
I won’t even get into the irony of how this happened at a Christian school.
At the end of the day, I’m all for self-expression. If an athlete feels the need to express themselves during the anthem, then so be it. It wouldn’t bother me one bit.
What I do fear is the point, again, being lost throughout all these protests. The initial knee, again, was not in protest of Trump or the government. It was about police brutality and racial injustice.
My advice to athletes, specifically the ones here in county, who are thinking about taking that knee? It’s not worth it. Instead, read up on what’s going on in this country. Then use that knowledge for good. You may not have the power now, but you will soon enough. I just hope that the power you gain from all this learning is used for good.