Amid the national anthem controversy that started in the NFL and has since spread beyond, a football coach at Victory & Praise Christian Academy in Crosby, Texas has actually kicked two students off the high school team for the actions they took while the anthem was being played.
When one player put his fist in the air and another kneeled as the National Anthem played, Coach Ronnie Mitchem, a former Marine and pastor, told them to take off their uniforms and go home.
According to The Houston Chronicle:
Cedric Ingram-Lewis raised his fist while cousin Larry McCullough knelt during the anthem ahead of the team’s game against Providence Classical.
After the anthem ended, head coach Ronnie Mitchem instructed them to take off their uniforms and kicked them off the team. Mitchem is a former Marine and pastor who started the church-based football program in Crosby six years ago.
Ingram-Lewis, a sophomore, said the topic of protesting had come up in the locker room before and his cousin McCullough, a senior, even announced he would kneel via social media. The coach had told players he did not want anyone to kneel, citing his service in the military.
Apparently, Victory & Praise wasn’t the first high school to advise students against participating in protests.
Per CBS Sports:
Per the Houston Chronicle, Coach Mitchem said he had no problem with the students protesting, but advised if they choose to do so, to be sure to do it in respectful ways, such as kneeling after a touchdown in the end zone, or “writing and passing out a paper about the issues.”
Ingram-Lewis’s mother, Rhonda Brady, is not happy with how the coach handled the situation.
“I don’t want them back on the team,” Brady said. “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.”
The Houston Chronicle continued:
The coach is also content with not having the pair back on the team.
[…] Mitchem believes the kneeling offends people and veterans who have fought for this country and takes away from the focus on the issues.
“That was my point of view,” Mitchem said. “Like I 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.”
Like it or not folks, the bottom line is this: Protesting during the National Anthem is flat out disrespectful. And Coach Mitchem is certainly not a “man with no integrity,” Ms. Brady. In fact, I would dare say his integrity allows him to understand this controversy better than most, and he absolutely did the right thing here.