Kneeling for anthem puts high school players in awkward position (Opinion)
The New Jersey Football Coaches Association and the New Jersey Football Officials Association have gotten together and released a statement saying that teams will be permitted peaceful protests, like, for instance, taking a knee during the national anthem.
In this NJ.com article, Union High Head Coach Lou Grasso Jr. says he has not discussed with his team members what they will do, but whatever they did would be done together. This puts the athletes who disagree with whatever decision is made in an awkward position. It also sets them up for a bullying situation.
I'm guessing you're going to see a lot of kneeling. That puts the students who were brought up to stand for the anthem in a tough position of having to choose between their parents and their team. What if they come from a police or military family? What if they actually want to stand for the national anthem?
But wait, the team has already made their decision for them. They will do this as a team, regardless of how they really feel. Those more influential on the team will decide and those players who don't want to or are afraid to stand up will just go along with the decision. What about the athlete who does stand up for his beliefs? What will that do to team unity? These are not things high school athletes should be thinking about before games.
If it's the opinion of the students that the country needs to fix police brutality and racial inequality, then what are they doing about it? What is the school teaching them to do about it?
High schools are the perfect place to begin the process of making things better. It's all about relationships. If the athletes really feel there's a problem with police brutality in their town, then bring in the police and have them address the team. Ask questions, form relationships with them. Now you know them and they know you. That relationship will always come in handy down the road.
I have no problem with students kneeling but it should be an individual, not a team thing. There should also be a lot of research done by the student athletes before they make their decision. If I were the coach, I'd make each player hand in a written explanation of why they made their choice. This could actually be an incredible teaching moment. One that will stay with them much longer than their sport.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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