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Bluefield College. Kneel During Anthem, Deal With The Consequences.

Bluefield College is a liberal arts college in the town of Bluefield, Virginia and is located 150 feet from the Virginia / West Virginia boarder in the southwestern part of the state.

Before the start of the basketball season, the college made the decision that athletes would not be allowed to kneel during the National Anthem. According to a statement by school President David Olive:

The basis for my decision stemmed from my own awareness of how kneeling is perceived by some in our country, and I did not think a number of our alumni, friends, and donors of the College would view the act of kneeling during the anthem in a positive way. As I conveyed this to VP Walker and Coach Morgan, I denoted that anytime a student athlete puts on a jersey that says “Bluefield College” on it, the message is no longer just the student athlete’s message but that it becomes the message of Bluefield College. Pointing to the already fractured and divided nature of our country, I did not want Bluefield College contributing to the further divide; rather, I wanted the College to bring people together in a united effort to address issues of racial injustice.

Players were advised that kneeling during the anthem would result in consequences.

After kneeling before games, the consequences were made known – players were suspended for their actions.

An NAIA school in Virginia forfeited its men’s basketball game Thursday after suspending players for kneeling during the national anthem before several games in January and February.

The players’ reaction was predictable:

Athletes from the men’s and women’s basketball team, football team and women’s soccer team all joined a video conference discussion this week, Gray said, arguing that their First Amendment rights had been violated and discussing ways to address the school’s policy.

Apparently the school does not teach, or the students don’t know that that First Amendment applies to government actions, and not the actions of a private entity.

“We are a private entity, not a governmental entity,” Olive said in his statement. “We have policies and guidelines throughout the student handbook and the academic catalog that limit certain rights you otherwise might have elsewhere, such as in your home or in a public venue. The most important to me as it pertains to this matter, however, is what I shared earlier. When someone puts on a uniform or is performing a function on behalf of Bluefield College, that person is now representing Bluefield College. Heightened expectations are now placed on that individual as to what s/he can and cannot do or say as a representative of the College.”

The students said they were not trying to be disrespectful:

Olive said he reached out to Morgan and members of the team to discuss the protests, saying that he understood their message and supported calls for racial justice — but he did not condone doing so during the national anthem.

“I further told them that their intended message in bringing awareness of racial injustices was being diluted or completely lost because some saw their act of kneeling as being disrespectful to the flag, our country, and to our veterans,” Olive said in the statement. “In my opinion, their message was not being heard.”

Olive said players told him they had no intention to be disrespectful and shared personal stories of racism they’d faced.

There’s a certain double standard here that is on display.

We have seen professors, professionals, and regular people on the streets attacked, vilified and lose their jobs for a statement or something they did without trying to be “disrespectful.” Their intent did not matter – people came after them. Yet here we see the students saying they should be free of consequences because they meant no “disrespect.”

The problem is that the students (and others) want to control how they hear the message as to whether it is “disrespectful” or not, as well as control whether their message is “disrespectful” or not.

President Olive is correct – the message that the students and others want to be heard is getting lost in the time and place of that message. Many people (including us) do view it as disrespectful. We do feel it is an insult to the men and women who defended this country and protect the rights of people. We also feel it is disrespectful to the idea of unity as a country. The song is the NATIONAL ANTHEM for Pete’s sake.

If the students don’t want to be disrespectful, then change the timing of when players kneel. Kneel during player introductions. Kneel before the actual start of the game (ie stay on the sidelines and kneel for a bit of time.) There are alternatives that are available but doing those alternatives would mean that the protestors want to actually have conversations about racial equality.

What the steadfast adherence to kneeling during the national anthem says is that the protestors want to lecture to others. They don’t want to have a conversation which requires talking and listening from the parties.

Bluefield College is already getting blowback from people screaming about the so called injustice of the school’s actions.

That seems odd to us because what the screamers and to a large extent the protestors are saying is “we don’t want to remove any impediment to our message being heard. If you’re offended by us being offensive, that is on you.”

No….it is on them.



One Response to “Bluefield College. Kneel During Anthem, Deal With The Consequences.”

  1. Gaume says:

    “Bluefield College is a liberal arts college” after leading with those 7 words, I was not expecting this.

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