Taking a Knee for Liberty

The Repercussions of President Trump’s Comments to the NFL felt in High School Sports.


Taite Ross, Staff Writer

September 14th was not your typical Sunday filled with football and nachos, it was a date that will go down in history as the day the NFL protested the president. President Trump made it very obvious in comments just two days prior that he was not in favor of players peacefully protesting unarmed African Americans being shot and killed by police throughout the country, during the national anthem. Calling upon teams who have players who chose to kneel in protest to “… get that son of bitch off the field.”

We will not be devided by this…”

— Mike Tomlin

The following Sunday saw many NFL teams making statements of solidarity on the field from sitting, kneeling or locking arms during the national anthem to not even showing up for the anthem all together. Several of the owners of organizations within the NFL released statements showing concern about Trump’s comments, while some players spoke out after their games in which many echoed their owners. Mike Tomlin coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers said “We will not be divided by this. We got a group of men in there, men that come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, racist creeds, ethnicity, religions, and so forth. That is football, that is a lot of team sports. But because of our position we get drug into bullshit, to be quite honest with you.”
These actions from NFL teams across the league raised quite a few responses from many different voices across america. It became a divide from those who think politics and sports should remain separate, and those who believe the two should be intertwined. So when high school students hear of this, particularly athletes, they are faced with the opportunity to protest something they may be offended by. But in an educational setting surrounded by not only peers but theirs parents as well, will students be willing to stand up to their perceived injustices and the common opinion that one should stand for the anthem regardless of any factors?
It is hard to believe that such a large scale issue could have trickled down to high school athletics but it seems it already has as Sports Illustrated reports a Louisiana high school sent a letter to all its athletic participants and their parents listing a code of conduct during the anthem. “Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is participating.”
Such a quick and deliberate response from a high school further proves that President Trump’s influence in this issue may go deeper than he first intended. However, these comments from the school raise more questions such as, is this violating free speech, why can’t students protest in any way they chose, and why is protesting during the anthem at the high school level deemed wrong?

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones kneels before anthem with players and coaches.

So the question remains, should students be allowed to use the anthem to protest or should they remain traditional in their pre-game actions out of respect of their institutional and authoritative figures? These are the questions that were raised on the 14th and the dust on this issue is not going to settle anytime soon. In the meantime Cameron Marcucci thinks “students athletes should not sit during the anthem, solely because it will bring too much negative attention from parents and distract them from the game.”

Regardless of what your personal political stance is, we can mostly agree that President Trump’s comments rippled through a wide range of facets in our society from the fields of the NFL to the hallways of local high schools. Perhaps in a way Trump did not predict the response at first, but in spite of that here we are posed with the opportunity to protest and stand for what we personally believe. Whether that is sitting in protest of the President or standing in protest of those who sit, or simply standing because it is what you believe in, then you must do that, because it is what you believe in, and nothing, not the president, or the NFL, or high school athletics, can take that from you.