NFL protests influencing young Midlands players

NFL protests influencing young Midlands players

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a story that's been a trending topic all weekend long and again on this Monday - reaction to NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.

President Donald Trump has spoken out against the players both during televised interviews and on social media saying kneeling is disrespect, and even calling for some of the players to be fired.

The issue has sparked nationwide debate including right here in the Midlands. Ridge View Blazers Coach Perry Parks says the issue has come up before. Last year, when one of his players signaled that he might take a knee in agreement with then-49'ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

But the coach didn't like the idea of injecting politics into what Parks says is the purity of high school football.

"I just simply talked to the kid about the decisions that he made. The platform that we have is to keep high school football pure and for it to not be about me or you but about the community that we're representing with Ridge View High School. And what's right is to stand and respect our national anthem and our flag," Coach Parks said.

Now, the question about what is appropriate for high school and college athletes is back. As many of them see their role models in the pros taking knees and linking arms.

Veteran SC State Coach Buddy Pough says the matter is less likely to come up with many teams not on the field during the anthem. But Pough takes a somewhat more flexible stand.

"The fact that we don't come out generally until after the anthem is done and that kind of stuff. But at the same time, you don't necessarily want to, I think, stymie some of the personal rights of the individuals in your football program. You can't just tell guys, especially in circumstances such as this, exactly how to behave," Coach Pough said.

"You know there's a time and place for everything. Right is right and wrong is wrong but you are not to take things into your own hands," Coach Parks said.

A statement from the South Carolina High School League reads in part, "Standing or kneeling during the National Anthem is a discussion to be held at the local level. The SCHSL respectfully supports district policies and understands member schools' decision-making authority on this matter."

Student athletes and coaches are governed by district and school administrators to include rules prior to the start of an athletic event. Standing or kneeling during the National Anthem is a discussion to be held at the local level. The SCHSL respectfully supports district policies and understands member schools decision making authority on this matter.

Commissioner Jerome Singleton added, "It is my wish the student athletes, fans, and communities embrace this opportunity as a learning experience and teachable moment."

"I have confidence in South Carolina's educational leaders and academic authority figures to handle any challenging issues with grace and understanding. I have faith that our student athletes and coaches find common ground and participate in athletics with heart as a team; a brotherhood/sisterhood. Respect and sportsmanship are key components of high school athletics. Clean competition should be the focus of our athletic events. No doubt, there is the possibility we may observe a vast range of beliefs in the coming weeks based on varying experiences and backgrounds of the beholder.

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