Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Republican Senators warn State schools against student athletes disrespecting the flag; Dems say students need a "safe place."

by Rod Williams - Republican Legislators have warned state universities and colleges that they should take action to prevent student athletes from kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.  Below is an exempt from the Feb. 22 letter.

To address this issue, we encourage each of you to adopt policies within your respective athletic departments to prohibit any such actions moving forward. We view this as a teachable moment in which administrators may listen to concerns from students but also exercise leadership in stating unequivocally what the national anthem means to this nation and explain proper times, places and manners for expressing protest.

This followed a February 16 event at East Tennessee State University when the men's basketball team who was playing a game against the University of  Tennessee Chattanooga "took a knee," during the playing of the national album.  This is not the fist time this has been an issue.  On Jan. 7, all but one member of the Tennessee women's basketball team knelt during the national anthem. Since that event, The Lady Vols have remained in the locker room for the national anthem. 

All twenty-seven Republican senators signed a letter addressed to all state college and university presidents warning them not to allow this to occur again.  None of the State Democrat senators singed the letter. In fact Tennessee's six Democrat senators issued a statement stating: 

Our public colleges and universities should be a safe place for students to express themselves and advocate peacefully for change in our country without interference from the legislature or university administrators. In fact, student organizing on college campuses is a perfect reflection of the American values embedded in our First Amendment. Rather than silencing the voices of students who are peacefully bringing attention to injustice in our country, we should all be working together to address the inequities that brought them to a knee.

"The First Amendment is sacrosanct," said Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma. "I would never resist anything that’s going to allow them to exercise their First Amendment on their own time, absolutely." 

"They're representing the school and the school represents Tennessee and Tennessee shows preference to our time-honored people and institutions who went before us. We respect our heritage and our history," said  Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City. 

Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, said he was concerned that student athletes would engage in an act of protest while "they're taking state money, they're in our state schools, in our state uniforms."

I support the position of the our stat's Republican Senators.  I would hope our governor would take a similar frim stand.  In my view, any state institution that allows student athletes  to disrespect our flag should have the athletic program defunded. 

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