Had a lengthy conversation today with several callers about whether or not kids should be standing up for the National Anthem when it's played prior to the start of a high school football game. The athletic director at Monroe High School defended the kids "constitutional right" to protest even when asked by our news department for his personal opinion. I called him out for being weak-minded as the children are seemingly running over the adults even in all the conversations related to the NFL inspired protests.

I'm embarrassed for adults across New Jersey who have taken a cowardly way out on this issue.  Although some Catholic schools are taking a very appropriate lead and doing what adult administrators should be doing everywhere.

Kids look to adults for leadership and structure. In many cases kids who may have no idea why certain NFL players are protesting (same may go for several of the NFL players as well) mimic their idols and stars and have local adults act as apologists for the misguided activity. Too many adults are seemingly afraid to tell the kids to do the right thing. Too many adults are so afraid of being attacked as a bigot they'd rather hide behind a very weak argument of the constitution and it's application to high school kid behavior.

First of all they are kids. Their rights are limited to the legal direction from school officials and parents. It's not wrong nor is it a violation of anyone's rights to set a standard for respecting the nation in a public classroom. Some of these apologists adults who are seemingly afraid to push back and do their job as leaders are acting like these kids are at the level of a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. It's absurd. No wonder why we have so many discipline problems in schools. School administrators, are having a hard time reining in bullying on one side and have lost complete control when it comes to drugs.

We have rampant suicide, drug overdoses and violence in our schools.

It's outrageous for a school athletic director to treat these children as if they should be allowed to express themselves any way they feel at the time. I'm not even going to get into the false narrative of police abuse that started the whole Kaepernick protests, nor the complete fabrication of "hands up don't shoot". Instead it's important to focus on the generation of adults in charge of teaching, training and shaping the future men and women who will lead our communities. When something as simple as respect for the flag and anthem can't be enforced, it's a lot harder to keep the kids within the parameters of being a good citizen. Yes, being a good citizen is a value. Yes, being patriotic is a value.  And yes, it's up to the adults in the room to instill those values on the next generation of Americans. Stop with the references to a 'constitutional right'. The first amendment doesn't preclude a school from making certain rules. It certainly doesn't protect kids from saying anything they want. How many words, even if told in a joke will get a kid suspected? It's a ludicrous argument to bring a high school football player up to the level of a constitutionally protected champion of social justice. Give me a break, they're kids.  And they might just benefit from actual leadership on the field and in the administrative offices.

As far as the NFL, I no longer care. They're adults and have a right to exercise their right to protest. I've already exercised my right to turn the channel to anything other than the NFL. But for kids, different story. When you're 18 and old enough to vote, you can, sit, stand, squat or do what ever you like when the Anthem plays. But in a school supported by the hard working taxpayers in our state, grow up, show a little respect and stand up for the Anthem,

Some callers agreed with my take and some did not, but it was a vibrant conversation today for sure.  More tomorrow as I'm joined by one of New Jersey's leading business entrepreneurs, Steve Kalafer. Steve recently pulled all of his advertising from networks carrying the NFL.

Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea.

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