Add To Favorites In PHR
High school players kneel for anthem, veteran upset
The Enterprise - 10/3/2017
STOUGHTON - The students, lined up on the side-line, dropped to one knee for the playing of the national anthem.
Some put their hands on each other's shoulders, while a few of their teammates stood behind them.
At least 13 players on the Stoughton High School varsity football team knelt during the anthem before the team's game at Sharon High School on Thursday afternoon.
A photo obtained by The Enterprise shows 11 students kneeling, then five standing and two more on a knee before other players stood.
The display frustrated at least one local veteran - Jerry Katz of Stoughton - whose grandson plays for Sharon.
"It saddens me," Katz told The Enterprise. "I just feel that at a school sporting event, a person shouldn't all of a sudden express their political beliefs in front of all these people, especially not during the national anthem."
Katz, who also had several relatives in the military, said not standing is disrespectful to the American flag. He also believes the students are just copying National Football League players and likely couldn't state their reason for protesting.
"People should understand why we stand for the national anthem, in honor of your country."
Katz said. "Why are they kneeling? Do they disrespect the United States of America, the flag of their country? If you do, get out."
But the principal at the high school, Juliette Miller, said coaches and the administration used it as a teachable moment. She said the administration was told by the athletic director that some students intended to kneel for the anthem.
"We have worked with students throughout the day, both who participated and those who disagree with the protest, to talk about First Amendment rights, the meaning behind the protest and how to coexist with others who believe in different ways than they do," Miller told The Enterprise.
Long time head coach Greg Burke, whose team won 33-0, said he was asked by the administration not to comment on the situation.
"I can't make any comments on that whole situation, per order of the Stoughton school system."
Burke said. "It has nothing to do with me. I have nothing to say about it. No one from Sharon spoke with me."
A large number of professional athletes have started to kneel during the national anthem following recent remarks by President Donald Trump.
The president encouraged NFL owners to fire players who kneel and said he'd like to see an owner say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now."
Miller said the Stoughton students who participated won't face any disciplinary action.
"Students who knelt at the football game will not face consequences," she said. "They have not broken any school policy. Further, the courts have ruled that schools cannot compel students to participate in patriotic rituals, like the Pledge (of Allegiance) and the national anthem. Punishing students would be a violation of their rights as well as a lost teaching moment."
Cody Shepard May be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.