MONROE (Middlesex) — When the Monroe Township High School football team traveled to New Brunswick High School, four members of the team took a knee during the national anthem and brought a national controversy to the local scene.

The issue of taking a knee during the national anthem came to national prominence last year when Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the national anthem before games. This year the trend continued and grew after President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue last month.

Last week the Rutgers University football team and their hosts at the University of Nebraska opted to not take the field for the anthem before their game. Last season, players at Camden's public Woodrow Wilson High School and their coach took a knee, while the Diocese of Camden warned that players who did the same at Catholic schools would face disciplinary action.

Athletic Director Greg Beyer said the players had alerted Coach Dan Lee before the game. Beyer, Lee, and Principal Robert Goodall discussed the situation and agreed to let the players go forward with their display.

"The coach met with me and the principal and since it is their constitutional right to have a non-violent protest they're allowed to do it," Beyer said. "It's the same thing as if somebody doesn't stand for the pledge during the Pledge of Allegiance at the school."

Beyer said he did not know which students were involved, but said none would face any disciplinary action.

"Do I think it's going to continue? I don't have any idea," Beyer said. "I'm sure there will be other schools that have kids do it."

When asked his opinion of whether the players should stand for the anthem, Beyer said it's "hard to go against the constitution."

The Monroe team is scheduled to return to action on Saturday when the travel to Freehold Borough High School. The team lost the New Brunswick game 41-6.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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