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The inflamed national debate over what to do during the National Anthem has hit the high school ranks. Parkway (Bossier City, La.)
principal Waylon Bates sent a directive to student-athletes and parents Thursday morning, warning that failure to stand during the National Anthem would result in "loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal."
The directive was posted on Twitter and comes six days after President Trump said at a rally in Huntsville, Ala., that NFL players who protest the anthem should be "fired."
Trump's strong language and message inflamed an already heated debate over rights to protest during the anthem and seemed to galvanize NFL players.
Meanwhile, according to the Palm Beach Post
, Palm Beach County School District spokesperson Kathy Burstein reiterated its position that student-athletes may kneel during the anthem, without consequence.
"If students kneel during the playing of the national anthem, there should be no consequences or interventions for this action," she told the newspaper. "Additionally, there should be no threats or warnings made to students if they kneel."
Burnstein did warn that if the action is disruptive or vulgar, "there can be discipline."
California Interscholastic Federation Executive Director Roger Blake issued a statement this week that his state doesn't have a bylaw regarding demonstrations during the National Anthem.
He did, however, issue this statement: "I hope coaches will use the locker room as their classroom and talk with their players. This shouldn't be about mimicking the professional athletes, but a discussion on why individuals feel so strongly on both sides of the issue. This is a learning opportunity for all those involved in education-based athletics and leaders should take this occasion to teach student-athletes and discuss the subject at hand and make informed decisions accordingly."
Each of the 10 sections in California has its own set of bylaws. The Los Angeles City Section weighed in with a clarification from commissioner John Aguirre.
The bylaw (1317) states that, "When the National Anthem is played at a contest, regardless of sport, both teams shall be present on the sideline or bench and shall stand respectfully until it has been completed. In the sport of football, the National Anthem will not begin until both teams are on their respective sidelines."
The bylaw goes on to say teams not in accordance will be assessed a 15-yard penalty.
The purpose of the rule, according to this week's release from section spokesperson Dick Dornan, was to start games on time.
Aguirre and the section expanded on its position further: "The CIF LA City Section will allow student-athletes to kneel during the National Anthem should an athlete choose to do so. The actions must be appropriate and respectful of others in attendance. ... This is a teaching moment and not one to take casually."
The debate has been anything but casual since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made his personal protest during the anthem in August 2016. Last fall, the Iowa High School Athletic Association sent out an email to school administrators noting it "would never infringe on one's right to freedom of expression," but offered a reminder of flag etiquette:
"Stand at attention, face the flag, and place their right hand (palm open) over their heart."
Around the same time Iowa sent its etiquette reminder, Illinois High School Association executive director Craig Anderson sent out this statement: "High school sports are a fabric of our great country, and honoring our freedoms with the playing of the National Anthem prior to (IHSA) events is an important institution. The ability to peacefully protest is part of those said freedoms, and a right that some high school student-athletes in the state have exercised. ... It is important to remember that high school sports are an extension of the classroom. It is our sincere hope that these actions generate meaningful discussion among the high school communities as a whole, as opposed to unilateral praise or condemnation."