Following the actions of others across the country, six Rock Island High School football players knelt on one knee Friday as the national anthem was played prior to the Rocks’ Western Big Six football game against Rock Island Alleman.
Senior Jarvel Lewis and juniors Tavion Brooks, DeAngelo Horne, Oliver McDowell, Javontae Rush and Deion Stewart-Parks lined up next to teammates across one end zone at Lindberg Stadium and following the lead of San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, they dropped to one knee during the anthem as a way to protest racial injustice in the United States.
Rock Island coach Bryan Stortz said following Friday’s game the actions were taken following discussion with both coaches and teammates.
Stortz said one of the players approached him about the possibility Thursday.
“They talked to me about it and I said as long as you talk with your teammates and it is not a distraction to what we’re trying to do as a team, I’m OK with it,’’ Stortz said. “They talked with their teammates and chose to follow through with what we discussed.’’
Stortz called the way the players handled the situation “very mature,’’ and appreciated the discussions that took place.
“Obviously, they have freedom of speech,’’ he said. “It was good of them to ask the coaches. I told them that personally, I would not do it but I’m not going to tell them what to do.’’
School administrators across the country also find themselves dealing with similar situations.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association sent a memorandum to its member schools on Thursday, encouraging schools to remind people of how to properly address the flag during the playing of national anthem.
The memo included information of proper flag etiquette created in 2006 by the IHSAA, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the Iowa High School Music Association and the Iowa High School Speech Association.
It encourages schools to remind students, participants and spectators of flag etiquette before playing the national anthem at events.