The national debate over the protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games isn’t dying down.
It has even prompted protests on the high school level across the country. But not in Manatee County.
And local public high school officials are playing the waiting game to decide their response if any student-athletes follow Kaepernick’s lead.
“We haven’t had to broach that situation yet,” Manatee County athletic director Jason Montgomery said. “That would probably be an individual school and coaching decision at this point.”
Kaepernick gained national attention Aug. 26 by kneeling during the national anthem to protest what he perceives to be unequal treatment for minorities in the country. A San Francisco teammate, Eric Reid, joined Kaepernick on Sept. 1. Seattle’s Jeremy Lane sat during the anthem on that same day. A week later, more NFL players from various teams joined Kaepernick’s protest movement. That included four Miami Dolphins players on the opening day of the NFL — also the 15-year anniversary of 9/11 — after standing for pre-game 9/11 acknowledgments.
At Braden River, Principal Jennifer Gilray said there is no policy in place. The Pirates are on the field during the national anthem’s playing, but that could be an option that’s changed to keep the players in the locker room depending on whether a protest takes place.
“If a distraction occurs, regardless if it’s this or any other distraction, safety and security of everybody is my primary concern,” Gilray said. “So I wouldn’t say it would be for this reason. I would just say that if there’s a concern that’s brought to me, that’s always an option to leave the boys in the locker room if we had to.”
At Manatee and Palmetto, the issue hasn’t come up since Kaepernick started kneeling for the national anthem during NFL preseason games . That’s because the Hurricanes and Tigers have pregame routines that often find the teams in their locker rooms when the anthem is played Friday nights.
“It’s kind of typical for timing purposes,” Manatee head coach John Booth said.
On the road, the Canes have not been on the field during the anthem’s playing in August’s trip to Alabama and a Week 3 trip to Venice.
“We haven’t really had a whole lot of discussion about it with our players,” Booth said. “It hasn’t been something that’s been brought up by our guys, so it’s kind of been a non-issue for us.”
High school players in various parts of the United States have followed Kaepernick’s example. And it’s come at a price. The Associated Press reported recently that football players in New Jersey, Alabama and Massachusetts who kneeled for the national anthem have received suspensions for their actions.
Week 5 schedule
Boyd Anderson at IMG Academy, 7 p.m.
Cardinal Mooney at Lemon Bay, 7 p.m.
Palmetto at Bayshore, 7:30 p.m.
Braden River at Leesburg, 7:30 p.m.
Lakewood Ranch at Land O’Lakes Sunlake, 7:30 p.m.
Deltona Trinity Christian at Bradenton Christian, 7:30 p.m.