High School Football Players Kicked Off Team For Kneeling During Anthem

by Mike Julianelle
Image via ABC News

The players had to turn in their uniforms after their protest

Two high school football players were kicked off their teams, immediately after taking a knee during the national anthem before Friday night’s games.

This isn’t just happening in the NFL.

A week after NFL teams made multiple displays of solidarity and unity in the face of President Trump’s incendiary comments about the league-wide protests initiated by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, two high school players were kicked off their teams for following suit.

The teenagers, Cedric Ingram-Lewis and Larry McCullough, play for Victory and Praise School, a private high school outside Houston in Cosby, Texas, told their coach about their planned protest before game, and after they followed through — by kneeling and raising a fist — the coach requested their uniforms and kicked them off the team.

“There is a proper time to do something in a proper way,” Coach Ronnie Ray Mitchem told ABC News. A veteran of the military, Coach Mitchem has long had a rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem, but once again, there is a divide between the players protesting and the white men in charge.

Image via ABC News

Despite being booted off the team and feeling “humiliated” by being made to remove their uniforms directly after the anthem played, Ingram-Lewis and McCullough are pleased that their protest has gained attention. But Ingram-Lewis’ mother criticized Coach Mitchem for his decision.

“I’m definitely going to have a conversation because I don’t like the way that that was handled,” Rhonda Brady told the Houston Chronicle. “But I don’t want them back on the team. A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that.”

This will be the second weekend of football after Trump’s comments created a firestorm, and now the protests have spread beyond the professional level. But the miscommunication remains.

Image via ABC News

Coach Mitchem has every right to kick players off his team for breaking a rule, but this idea that the flag is being disrespected has totally obscured the actual reason behind the protests.

Colin Kaepernick and the other players he inspired to start kneeling at the start of games aren’t protesting the anthem, despite what President Trump, his administration, and his followers want us to think. They are protesting police brutality and the unequal treatment black people receive in the United States.

In little more than a week, the story has been reframed – by the president and the media – as one of free speech and the national anthem, and Coach Mitchem is helping their cause, and adding fuel to the fire by deciding when it’s appropriate for black men to protest.

This remains a divisive issue, but the players are receiving some support online.