During national anthem, Camden HS football team ‘takes a knee’
CAMDEN - A South Jersey high school football team joined their coach and took a knee during the national anthem before their game on Saturday.
Preston Brown, the head football coach at Camden's Woodrow Wilson High School, told NJ Advance Media he informed the team of his intentions on Friday but did not ask or expect the team to join him.
According to Philly.com all but two players joined Brown at the start of the game against Highland in Camden.
“All my life I felt like I stood up for the national anthem as a formality. It never meant that much to me. I still love America. I have nothing against it, and I still love our military and all that they do but it was never a song that moved me. I always just closed my eyes and did it. (Because) of recent events that happened the last couple years, things I experienced in college being an African-American student athlete in the south (at Tulane), I felt it was an appropriate time to do that," the full-time teacher told the news site.
NJSIAA spokesman Mike Cherenson said the organization does not have a policy related to the national anthem.
The Camden School District said it does not oppose the actions of the coach and team.
"The district supports standing for the flag, but this is a personal issue, and we strongly respect our students' experiences and their exercising our country's First Amendment rights. Whether our students choose to stand, kneel, or otherwise, we're proud of their engagement with what is more broadly a very important social justice issue," spokesman Brendan Lowe said in an email.
Reaction to the action was mixed on social media.
"Disgraceful. Teach the boys to make positive changes. Get good grades, work hard, get involved in your community. I'm not understanding how condoning the disrespect of our National Anthem and flag is a positive teaching model," wrote Lori Ann LaTorre on Facebook.
"What a slap in the face to our military. Pathetic!!!" posted Kim-Faye Byrd.
"I don't see a problem, defund the program and eliminate the team all together. When these kids grow up and get real jobs they have to follow certain rules, there is no sense of respect from the people who we pay to be teachers why would we expect their students to grow up and show any respect to the police, the military or each other," wrote John Camp.
"Powerful demonstration. The players actually followed the lead of their coach in this instance," wrote Shaun King. "Yea WOODROW WILSON!!!!! So proud of y'all!!!!," Frank-Frank Dowe wrote.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to take a knee during the national anthem during a pre-season game against Green Bay. He explained it was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States. Since then, other athletes including NFL players have chosen not to stand.
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