The Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Camden sent a letter to its schools stating that any player who didn’t “show respect” during the National Anthem would be subject to suspension.
Superintendent Mary P. Boyle sent the following letter:
In light of the recent controversy regarding the NFL player’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem, I seek to clarify the position of the Office of Catholic Schools. I ask that this be communicated to those listed above.
Our schools are founded on the teaching of respect and honor; respect and honor for God, country and duly appointed authority.
It is expected that our administration and coaches as well as our athletes will show respect during prayer, pledges and the playing or singing of the National Anthem.
The best approach is helping our young people understand that blood was sacrificed so that we all can enjoy the gifts of our faith and our country.
However, let me be clear. We are not public institutions and free speech in all of its demonstrations, including protests is not a guaranteed right.
Failure to do demonstrate appropriate respect, will result in suspension from play (2 games) or dismissal from the team for subsequent offenses.”
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the National Anthem protest during the NFL preseason, initially remaining seated on the bench. After consulting with veterans’ groups, he came to compromise of kneeling during the Anthem – the veterans believed that act was enough to remain respectful while still sending the message of protest. Other NFL players have joined in the movement, and the effects are rippling down to other levels of athletics.
Coaches at Woodrow Wilson High School, a public school in Camden not under the jurisdiction of the Diocese, knelt during the Anthem before their game this past Saturday.