Two high school football players in Crosby, TX, were kicked off the team Friday night after kneeling and raising a fist during the playing of the national anthem.
Cedric Ingram–Lewis and his cousin Larry McCullough were told by the team’s head coach at Victory & Praise Christian Academy, in Harris County, to remove their uniforms and leave after Ingram–Lewis raised his fist and McCullough knelt ahead of a game against rival Providence Classical, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The newspaper notes that coach Ronnie Mitchem is a former Marine and a pastor who started the Christian-focused football program a few years ago. He was unrepentant about his decision, however, telling the two players they should have protested “in other ways” and that they had to “pay for the consequences.”
Because, you know, that’s what Jesus would’ve done, right?
Referring to Mitchem, Lewis’ mother, Rhonda Brady, said, “A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that.”
Neither Brady nor Mitchem want the two students to return to the team.
Other schools have taken similar steps. Earlier this week, Parkway High School in Bossier, LA, warned players and parents in a letter that national anthem protests would result in less playing time or even being kicked off the team, CBS Sports reported.
Parkway’s principal Waylon Bates wrote:
Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is participating. Failure to comply will result in loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal. Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team.
And just to clarify, because sadly it needs to be repeated, the protests by athletes taking place across the country are about police brutality and the killing of African Americans in the United States, and racism, not about the national anthem or the U.S. flag.