High School Football Team Takes Field With American Flags

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. – Tuesday night, NBC Sports is reporting the NFL “may consider” a rule change requiring players to stand during the national anthem. For some players kneeling is a way to protest police brutality and inequality for people of color. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to team owners saying the league respects the right of its players to express their views, but the league believes players should stand for the national anthem.

In the midst of that controversy, one South Dakota high school football team decided to try something new.

Helmets, pads and American flags. It wasn’t your ordinary high school football game last week, because of what happened before the game started.

“Take some pride in our country and all the things that flag gives us the ability to do,” says Activities Director Todd Palmer.

After announcing the starting lineup, every player on the Chamberlain High School football team held a flag during the national anthem.

“This community strongly stands behind the fight of social injustices, and we also strongly stand by our soldiers,” explains Palmer.

A player’s mom came up with the idea after seeing another school do something similar on social media.

“She emailed me asking if we could possibly do something of that nature,” explains Palmer.

Before agreeing, Palmer wanted to make sure the act wasn’t making a political statement.

“It’s not a reaction to anything,” he says. “We respect everybody and their right to voice their opinion.”

Instead, standing unified, the school took the opportunity to show what the red, white and blue really means to them.

“Giving each individual the chance to live in this great country,” says Palmer. “With anything there are problems that go along with it, but I think as Americans we’ve been able to work through those.”

The community response has been positive. But Palmer hopes the message will go beyond a quick “like.”

“One thing I would like to see our athletes do is every time they see a service person, they thank them for their service,” says Palmer. “This is just one way we could show that thanks.”

Palmer says the flag holding was a one-time event during their homecoming game. But something will be different this upcoming game: players will be wearing pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.