In response to the national racial unrest, professional sports players in the National Football League (NFL) have recently begun kneeling in protest during the national anthem played before each game. Some high school players, and even elementary students, across the United States have begun kneeling in reflection of their professional heroes. The trend has not caught on in local schools, although coaches are aware it could become an issue.
Nick Tomlin, the defensive coordinator for the Elkin High varsity and junior varsity football teams, said, “I am not for it, but not judging it.”
Tomlin felt kneeling during the anthem was a personal choice and not one he could forbid, but neither was he comfortable with it either due to the way kneeling could be taken as disrespectful to the Americans who fought for the country.
Soccer coach Joe McCulloch said, “Kneeling is OK, but protests should not be done during the national anthem.” It was also an issue of patriotism for McCulloch. “I want people to stand and be proud for what our country has accomplished, to honor those who fight and protect our rights.”
Despite their discomfort with the kneeling protests, both coaches were reluctant to judge or condemn those who chose to do so. As Tomlin explained, “I would not bench a player for kneeling.”
While the kneeling issue has yet to be resolved on the national level, it does not seem to have affected local sports. If it does, the understanding and tolerance of the coaches should help everyone to resolve any conflicts.
Andrew Copeland, Tyler Holcomb , Brandon Cosby, and Coleton Adams are English students at Elkin High School.