Trump's NFL comments draw local response

Trump's NFL comments draw local response

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Mondays in the sports world are usually for talking about scores, standings and how the weekend's game went overall.

But the buzz in football locker rooms now are focused on President Donald Trump's recent criticism of the NFL and how many players reacted.

Now the question is if this situation is likely to rub off on local sports.

Those who turned on the TV Sunday saw coaches, players and owners joining what is being called a silent protest by kneeling down or locking arms during the National Anthem in a show of solidarity.

But what if this happens on local fields? Would there be consequences if athletes silently protest, or are players are allowed to make the decision on their own?

Coastal Carolina University released the following statement in reference to the controversy:

Coastal Carolina University supports freedom of expression. Anyone who wishes to peacefully protest has the right to do so, as long as the action is not violent and does not incite violence. Regarding CCU football games,  the ceremonial portion of the pregame program, which includes the national anthem, takes place before players enter the field. However, if individuals on a sports team choose to express their personal beliefs through peaceful protest, the Constitution protects their right to do so.

As for high school athletics, Lisa Bourcier, director of strategic communications and community engagement for Horry County Schools, said the district recognizes students’ rights to freedom of speech and expression.

"However, all students are expected to conduct themselves with proper decorum during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem," Bourcier said.

This situation is still invoking a number of conversations among both athletes and fans.

"It shows unity between white, black and Mexican, everybody, so I think like by them bonding like teams, it is good," CCU football player Malcolm Williams said.

A WMBF News Facebook poll asked if viewers agreed with President Trump's statements on the NFL. A majority of those who participated voted yes.

"These people who are doing this are not doing this for the right purpose," said local football fan Whitney Craig. "If you want to have a protest about Black Lives Matter or whatever, that's fine. I have many friends of all different ethnicities and races that I would stand before them and protect what they're for if it's right."

Overall, players say they hope the attention eventually turns to what's happening during the game rather than before kickoff.

Read Horry County Schools' policy regarding the flag and the playing of the National Anthem below:

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