Monday, December 19, 2016

Kneeling and Football in America ...

1. Jessica Chasmar, "Florida football coach reprimanded for kneeling during team prayer," The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2016 [original article contains links; see also 2. and 3. below.]

Image from article, with caption: Eddie Metcalf, a football coach at Wakulla Middle School in Wakulla County, Florida, has been reprimanded by the school district after he was captured on video taking a knee during a player’s pre-game prayer. (WCTV)

A middle school football coach in Wakulla County, Florida, has been reprimanded by the school district after he was captured on video taking a knee during a player’s pre-game prayer.

A parent whose son plays on the Wakulla Middle School football team filmed Coach Eddie Metcalf kneeling in the team’s pregame huddle as a player recited the Lord’s Prayer, a local CBS News affiliate reported.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation said it was “unconstitutional” for Mr. Metcalf to participate in the prayer at all. The Wakulla County School superintendent agreed that Mr. Metcalf violated school policy and said the coach would be disciplined if it happened again.

In a “Letter of Professional Guidance,” Superintendent Robert Pearce cited the district’s personnel handbook, which states, “kneeling with students in prayer or joining hands with students in a prayer circle” are examples of “unlawful participation,” CBS reported.

“The coach may not participate in the prayer,” Mr. Pearce said. “He may not kneel with the players. He may not put his hands on a player during a prayer.”

“What we want our coaches to do and what most people have survived with in regards to meeting the letter of the law — is to have separation from the players — two to three steps,” he added. “You are allowed to have reverent respect for their prayer.”

A group of parents angry about the district’s handling of the situation addressed the Wakulla School Board Monday night, CBS reported.

Jeremy Smith, a longtime friend of Mr. Metcalf, said the coach was simply respecting the prayer, not actively participating.

“It’s infuriating,” Mr. Smith told Fox News. “Eddie was not preaching or teaching or proselytizing or evangelizing. He was reverently nodding his head.”

“This coach has poured his life into this town,” he said. “When you hear about men among men — he is that kind of man.”

Mr. Smith said he and other members of the community are organizing a group to defend the coach and send a message to the school district, Fox News reported.


2. Associated Press, "Colin Kaepernick kneels for national anthem amid 'USA' chants," CBS News (October 16)

image from article

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Amid loud chants of “USA! USA! USA!,” San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt for the national anthem Sunday in his continuing protest against racial oppression and police brutality.

Outside the stadium, vendors sold shirts with Kaepernick’s image in the sites of a rifle scope, and fans tackled a dummy dressed up like the quarterback . Nearby, other fans protested in support of the movement .

The game against the Buffalo Bills marked Kaepernick’s first start of the season after Blaine Gabbert was benched.

Kaepernick knelt on the the 49ers sideline, joined by linebacker Eli Harold and safety Eric Reid. To the left of the kneeling players, cornerback Rashard Robinson and safety Antoine Bethea stood for the anthem, each with an arm raised.

The entire Bills team stood on the sideline, as players and coaches have done all this season.

Kaepernick was the only San Francisco player not wearing his helmet when the Niners took the field. He was loudly booed while jogging toward the 49ers sideline.

He got off the 49ers bus wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Muhammad Ali .

Outside New Era Field, one vendor was selling a T-shirt

“Wanted: Notorious Disgrace to America,” and with a picture of Kaepernick throwing a pass and a bullseye aimed at his chest.

Another T-shirt featured a drawing of a kneeling Kaepernick with the words, “Shut Up and Stand Up!” printed.

Outside the stadium, fans took out their anger on a tackling dummy wearing a Kaepernick jersey.

Kaepernick has caused a national stir with his protest, which began when he sat for the anthem during the preseason. He has since changed his protest, kneeling during the anthem. Other players have followed suit, while some have protested by raising a fist.

Kaepernick hasn’t started since a loss at St. Louis on Nov. 1. He briefly played the following week before being placed on season-ending injured reserve. He then had three operations to repair injuries to his non-throwing shoulder, left knee and right thumb.

Overall, he has 27-20 record, with his numbers dropping since getting off to an 18-7 start.


3. Nancy Armour, "How national anthem protests bring out worst in people," USA TODAY (September 27) [original artists contains links and additional images]

Image from article, with caption: Fans hold a sign and the flag in responses to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest. (Photo: Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports)

For three weeks now, the emails have come fast and, mostly, furious.

“If (Colin) Kaepernick really cared about black lives he would be in Chicago telling those primates to stop killing each other.”

“What the players should be focusing on are bigger issues … dealing with the problems of the inner cities such as black men killing other black men, black children without fathers,” read another.

“You Nazi (expletive). Patriotism is not defined by protest or reaction to protest. Patriotism is an individual feeling and experience. When these (expletive) take a knee they are spitting in the faces of soldiers like Pat Tillman. They are spitting on the graves of everyone killed on 911. That may not be their intention but that is reality. (Expletive) you and (expletive) them. … I hope you die of AIDS. That is my right as an American.”

That’s just a sampling of the more than 200 emails I’ve gotten in response to three columns I’ve written about Colin Kaepernick and his and other athletes’ protests during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and racial inequality.

I can take the vitriol and insults. That comes with the job, and I’ve grown accustomed to it.

What I can’t understand is that the protests and the words I’ve written have not infringed on anyone’s constitutional rights, or directly impacted anyone’s life in any way, and yet some people can’t contain their hatred. Or their hypocrisy, demanding respect for this country’s institutions and symbols when they refuse to show it for their fellow citizens.

“(Kaepernick) is a piece of (expletive). hope when he gets to play, someone breaks his back or neck.”

In almost three years as a columnist for USA TODAY Sports, the only other piece I’ve written that’s gotten a comparable response is one on Cam Newton and my belief that much of the criticism of him last season was rooted in racism.

Funny how that works.

I understand people have passionate feelings about the flag and the anthem, particularly those who served in the military. But, with all due respect, patriotism and honoring this country is simply a convenient cover for the vehemence and volume of the reaction to Kaepernick and his fellow protesters.

If this truly was about patriotism, where was the outrage during all of those decades when NFL players weren’t required to be on the field for the national anthem? It wasn’t until 2009 when that changed. Where is the indignation that the anthem is rarely shown on broadcasts of any game, in any sport? (Although the anthem has appeared on TV before most NFL games this season. You can thank Kaepernick for that.)

What about all those people texting, talking, taking photos or trying to catch Pokemon during The Star-Spangled Banner? Or the singers who “perform” the anthem as if they’re looking for a recording contract? When are we going after them with pitchforks and torches?

And since we’re all so fiercely patriotic these days, there’s going to be a huge increase in voter turnout this fall, right? Voting might be the most powerful way to show gratitude to America and the men and women who have served it, yet less than two-thirds of this country can be bothered to do it during national elections.

But yeah, let’s get irate about someone not honoring a song so intrinsic to the fabric of this country that it wasn’t even adopted until 1931, 155 years after the republic was founded. A song that includes a verse celebrating the deaths of slaves, I might add.

“Colin Kaepernick’s protest links up with something that has haunted the nation since its founding and that is the presumed presence of disloyal black people,” said Eddie Glaude, chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton and author of Democracy in Black.

“You can go back to (Thomas) Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia and he’s concerned about divine retribution for the sin of slavery. He was paranoid about what these folks were going to do,” Glaude added.

“The moment (Kaepernick) takes a knee, it triggers that long-standing fear of the dangerous and disloyal.”

Another theme in the emails I’ve gotten is that if Kaepernick and other athletes are so concerned, why are they not addressing violence in Chicago and other cities? As if that somehow excuses police brutality.

Some have also said that blacks aren’t oppressed, they just need to work harder and be more responsible. Because a white person has any clue what it’s like to be black in America, where some people still can’t see anything beyond the color of someone’s skin.

Where liberty and justice still do not exist for all.

A large segment of our population is saying it does not trust law enforcement officials to protect it, and that ought to be enough to give all of us pause. And yet some still aren’t convinced even after seeing videos of the deaths of Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott – shall I go on?

“Every time we see something, every time something happens in the black community, we have to convince white America that it happened, that it’s for real,” Glaude said. “And white America is always surprised.

“Until we say that this is who we are, we will never be in the position to get beyond this.”

Oh, we’re saying who we are, all right. Doing it with our real names and company emails, too.

“These United States Of America have given him much more than he deserves. His Afro hair does not help in his message!”

But please, tell me again how it’s Colin Kaepernick and the other players who are so disrespectful.

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