High school football teams react to NFL anthem controversy

After national anthem demonstrations exploded last weekend in the NFL, we wanted to know how high school football players would respond.

Friday marked the first high school football games since demonstrations during the national anthem exploded last weekend in the NFL.

NFL players have said they're not protesting the national anthem or the flag.  Instead, they say they're trying to draw attention to racial injustice.

So would the protests trickle down to the high school level?

That was the big question leading up to games across Western Washington and across the country on Friday evening.

"I asked him how he feels about it. I told him basically it's his choice if he wants to be on one knee, but he understands what's going on," said Dale Baker, of the conversation he had with his son, who plays for Rainier Beach High School.

Rainier Beach played Roosevelt High School at Memorial Stadium, where the pregame tradition typically involves the Pledge of Allegiance rather than the national anthem.

As players recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Baker's son and almost all of his teammates chose to remain standing.

"This is his choice.  He stood today.  Now next week it could be different, but he stood today," said Baker.  "It's not about the flag, it's about the constitution, knowing your rights, and being able to protest peacefully."

One player from Rainier Beach did take a knee.

"There is really a lot of things out there I noticed, like racism.  That's the number one reason I took a knee, because of racism.  It's not right, " RJ Tone said.

Tone said the NFL demonstrations played a big part in his decision to kneel.

A few hours after he took a knee, Garfield High School and Eastside Catholic played in the second game of the night at Memorial Stadium.

The team from Eastside Catholic did not take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance. The Garfield Bulldogs chose to link arms and stand together, rather than kneel as they did during the entire 2016 season.  

"Seeing something like that, it just brings a sense of unity and pride, as a parent," said Angela Mose, whose son plays for Garfield.  "If anything, this just opens their eyes. It opens their eyes to everything that's going on and whether they decide it's right or wrong, at least now there's a little more knowledge there."

© 2017 KING-TV


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