Players kneel for national anthem before ETHS game

18 ETHS athletes and 1 NT athlete took a knee during the anthem

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Players kneel for national anthem before ETHS game

Junior Jonathan Taylor kneeling during the anthem

Junior Jonathan Taylor kneeling during the anthem

Junior Jonathan Taylor kneeling during the anthem

Junior Jonathan Taylor kneeling during the anthem

Lexi Shoup

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On Aug. 26, 2016,  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received signifiant media attention for kneeling while the national anthem played before games. Kaepernick sought to call attention to the oppression of people of color and the issue of police brutality in the United States. He received both support and criticism in doing so, and this has since become a subject of controversy. The protest is not limited to the NFL, however, as spectators saw at the on Thurs., Sept. 28, at the football game against ETHS. 18 ETHS players and 1 NT player knelt during the national anthem that played before the game.

Before the game began, ETHS superintendent Eric Witherspoon addressed the crowd. “The Superintendent gave a speech about race and the things going on in the United States right now. During that, the entire Evanston team was down on one knee,” said New Trier freshman football coach Michael Clough.

Witherspoon’s statement focused on inclusivity and community. “We must continue to fight for equality. We must continue to love. We must continue to speak out for injustices wherever they exist,” said Witherspoon.

After Witherspoon’s statement, the national anthem played and 18 of Evanston’s players remained kneeling. Jonathan Taylor, a New Trier junior running back/defensive back, knelt during the anthem. Taylor said, “The day before the game, Coach Doll talked to everyone on the team about how the Evanston team was maybe going to take a knee. I decided myself to talk to Coach Doll the next day and see how he felt about me taking a knee.” He continued by adding that both Doll and his teammates supported his decision. “It was optional and I am positive that it was the same for every other player on the team,” said Taylor.

Clough was not surprised by the number of Evanston athletes that took a knee. “Evanston’s a racially diverse school so there’s a lot of different views and opinions on what’s going on in the world and it reflected what’s going on in their school.

He added, “America is a free country and if someone chooses to do that, that is fine. I personally don’t think it is the right venue. I think standing for the national anthem is a sign of respect shown to our forefathers that have fought to keep America free.”

Varsity football Head Coach Brian Doll said that the Trevians had talked about the topic of kneeling during the anthem a few times. “We discussed as a team on a couple occasions but on Wednesday we discussed it more in depth, and on Thursday I had a follow up with the leaders of our team, and we’ve had numerous talks over the last year at different times.”

Doll said the main point of their discussions is about respecting each other’s opinions and supporting one other. “What I’ve found my role to be in this whole process is supporting everyone and making everybody feel comfortable so at the end of the day, I felt good that our team was able to have some conversations and then at the same time support each other, so it’s been good.”

Doll concluded that the game against Evanston ended up being a better experience for the team than people had expected. “I think a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable and that’s going to happen, but at the same time, as a teacher, as an educator, and as a coach, one of my main roles is to facilitate and to help everyone on our team. I think everybody landed in a pretty good place after yesterday.”

New Trier won the game 27-17 and have a record of 4-2 overall and 2-0 in conference.

Kelly Allison, senior president of the African American Community Club said, she supports a person’s right of self expression in a peaceful protest however they see fit. “People are always talking about how it’s disrespectful to our veterans which doesn’t make sense because that’s not even the point. Our veterans, God bless them, fought for our right to choose whether to sit or stand.”

She added that these protests are about race. “These predominantly white people protesting are annoyed and honestly frustrated that some black man has the nerve to stand up for what he believes in.

In response to the argument that sporting events are not the time or place for protests, Allison said, “An NFL game where millions of people are watching is the best place to voice your opinion because you know millions and millions of people are going to see it. It takes a lot to put yourself out there for something that you believe in so I can respect the fact that on national television they’re risking their jobs and playing time to stand up for something that they believe in.”



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