High School Football Players Join the Movement

Last year, the San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines because he silently protested by taking a knee during The Star Spangled Banner. Recently, this form of protest made its way back into the news in response to President Trump’s suggestion to fire NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem. This time, the protest has become present at both professional games and at high school games in New Jersey. However, should high school football players be penalized for using their freedom of speech?

In public high schools in New Jersey, the state has no restrictions that address kneeling during the national anthem. Instead, The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), which oversees high school athletics, says that it is up to the school to decide if the kneeler should be punished or not.

On the other hand, private high schools do not follow the same regulations as public high schools in New Jersey. Private and Catholic schools have the right to punish students if their political stance opposes the school’s rules. In fact, according to the article Can N.J. Schools Punish Students for NFL-Style ‘Take a Knee’ Protests?, “The Diocese of Camden told its schools last year that any student who fails to stand for the national anthem at a sporting event will be suspended for two games or dismissed from the team for repeated offenses,” (NJ.com).

Ultimately, high school students should not be castigated for joining the “take a knee” protests. The soldiers who fought for the United States back in 1776 fought for the freedom of speech. If someone wants to stand during the national anthem, they should stand. If someone chooses to kneel, they should be allowed to kneel.