Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

What happens when California's student athletes 'take a knee'

by Take Two®

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: The Los Angeles Chargers are seen during national anthem at the game against the Kansas City Cheifs at the StubHub Center on September 24, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This past weekend, many NFL players  reacted to the controversial comments of President Donald Trump, who blasted athletes that chose to sit or kneel during the national anthem.

But this time, some team owners decided to join the protest, locking arms with players in a sign of solidarity. 

It became a much talked about topic across the broadcast spectrum and on social media, sparking conversations about patriotism, the flag and the military, and whether or not it was disrespectful. 

That's why many high school administrators and coaches are nervous about what may happen at games this upcoming weekend, particularly football games. It's also the reason why on-field protests became a focal point for the California Interscholastic Federation or CIF.

It's the governing body for high school sports in California, and John Aguirre is the Commissioner for its Los Angeles City section. This week the federation held a meeting, that in part focused on these types of protests. 

He spoke to Take Two about why it was important to address the topic. 

"Past history has shown us that things usually start at the professional level and spread to the high school  ... whether it's the styles they're wearing, or the celebrations they're doing, or the protests, they're gonna be mimicked by those that watch NFL football, which is the great majority of the kids who play in football."

Aguirre said that a student's constitutional rights do not end at the gate of the school, so they do have a right to stage a protest, so long as it was done in a peaceful and respectful manner, there would be no actions taken against the player.

Aguirre did say that the only action they could not duplicate was to be on the sideline during the national anthem, but that was due to a procedural rule. He provided this statement via email: 

When the national anthem is played at a contest, regardless of the sport, both teams shall be present on 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.  If the start of the game is delayed, the violating team(s) will be charged with a fifteen yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, assessed at the kickoff.  In the event that both teams violate the rule, the penalties will be assessed on their respective kickoff.

The purpose of Bylaw 1317 is to maintain a timely event with the kickoff at a football game occurring at the scheduled time.  It is therefore necessary that the teams are on the sideline prior to the playing of the national anthem.  The CIF Los Angeles City Section shall support the school administrative efforts to discuss the current issues with their student athletes to allow the students to understand the issues and make an informed decision to the value of a respectful protest.  It is therefore the position of the CIF LA City Section that there shall be no penalty or infraction assessed for teams/players that participate in a respectful sideline protest during the playing of the national anthem. 

We ended our conversation by asking Aguirre, who is a veteran, what he thought about the ongoing protests, and if it was disrespectful or unpatriotic. 

"On the contrary,  that's the reason I served. That's the reason my son served. And that's the reason my dad served. We served this country so that we have the right to express ourselves. So we have the right to protest when we believe we're being mistreated, misrepresented or just the direction of the country is not equitable to everybody to everyone in the country ... I truly believe that this is what makes our country great."

To hear more about the CIF's guidelines, click the blue play button above.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy Take Two®? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC