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Can High School Athletes Kneel During the National Anthem?

by Charles Atkinson, Columnist

Strife between the Trump Administration and the National Football League boiled over when President Trump made several statements about the actions of players on the field a little over a week ago.

Traditionally, players stand shoulder-to-shoulder and face our national symbol for the duration of the anthem—a tradition with shallow roots, only becoming a league mandate in 2009. However, after President Trump withdrew Golden State Warriors’ player Steph Curry’s invitation to the White House and after he attacked the N.F.L., many players followed the lead of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick by protesting: kneeling, sitting, raising their fists, or otherwise demonstrating during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the start of play.

According to sports news site SB Nation, Kaepernick started sitting and kneeling during the anthem on August 14th of last year. It went unnoticed until the Aug. 26th preseason game. On the 28th of that month, Kaepernick gave his reason for the protest, stating:

“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

More players joined the protest this season after President Donald Trump made derogatory comments in his speech in Huntsville, Alabama. He called for kneeling players to be fired and those who continue to kneel an obscenity.

Backlash followed, and the floodgates opened. According to the Associated Press, 200 players kneeled after Trump’s comments last Sunday.

Professional football players have been booed by fans and insulted by the President of the United States for kneeling. Can High School students follow their lead and kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem?

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, yes they can. In the landmark First Amendment case Tinker v. Des Moines, the Court determined that students and faculty don’t lose their rights when they enter school, although they are under a slightly different set of rules than in a public setting. For a school to have a reason to discipline an athlete, the athlete would have to “materially and substantially interfere” with the school-sanctioned game.

Seeing as how players have stuck to kneeling, raising a fist (a-la the 1968 Olympics), or linking arms—but not forcing others to participate, nor directly causing a disruption—they remain in the clear. High school students are therefore free to exercise their First Amendment rights during the national anthem.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Can High School Athletes Kneel During the National Anthem?”

  1. Sponge bob on October 3rd, 2017 2:48 pm

    Yo what was the opinion? Lol

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Can High School Athletes Kneel During the National Anthem?