The National Anthem controversy that has taken over the NFL pregame spotlight has spread to colleges and to high schools. One Friday night protest didn’t go over too well with the coach. This was a private high school team, and the coach has a lot of control, so when two of his players took a knee during the anthem, he showed them the door.
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Victory & Praise Christian Athletics is a ministry outreach in Crosby, Texas. Two football players were kicked off the team Friday after kneeling during the national anthem at their game. Cedric Ingram-Lewis and Larry McCullough told ABC that they had planned on the protest, and that they’d even informed their coach.
Ronnie Ray Mitchem, who coaches the team, was not pleased. The team has a rule against kneeling. He’s a veteran, and takes the matter personally. He’s also the pastor and founder of the church that hosts the team.
“There is a proper time to do something in a proper way,” Mitchem said about the protest, and kneeling during the anthem isn’t the proper time.
When Ingram-Lewis and McCullough took a knee, Mitchem sacked them.
“He told us that disrespect will not be tolerated,” Lewis said. “He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there.”
“That’s just how he feels,” Ingram-Lewis said.
“I’m definitely going to have a conversation because I don’t like the way that that was handled,” Ingram-Lewis’ mother, Rhonda Brady said. “But I don’t want them back on the team. A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that.
“Actions speak louder than words. So, for him to do what he did, that really spoke volumes and I don’t want my kids or my nephew to be around a man with no integrity.”
“He has a slave master mentality,” she added about the coach. “If you were to go back to that when they wanted to tell us this is what you are going to do and this is how you do it. And if we didn’t comply, we were beaten, whooped or even killed.”
While public schools have fewer options with how this sort of thing is handled, the private schools can create their own regulations. To further complicate the issue, many of the members of the football team are just there to play, and are home-schooled.
The coach’s view was his decision. “That was my point of view,” Mitchem said. “I’m a former Marine. That just doesn’t fly and they knew that. I don’t have any problem with those young men. We’ve had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences.”