YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Football players throughout the National Football League took a knee during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday.
Some players stood and raised their fist. Others stood and locked arms as the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem, played inside stadiums.
The Carolina Panthers had eight players kneel during the national anthem, according to the Charlotte Observer.
On Sunday, a local sheriff weighed in on the kneeling debate that has been a topic of discussion throughout sports.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said on the sheriff’s office’s social media page that he believes that “our flag was created out of unity – 50 stars for 50 states.”
“It represents the melting pot of all of the many great men and women who have made this country mixed and beautiful,” Tolson said.
Tolson said those who kneel or bow during the national anthem that they are “kneeling or bowing for our God who stands for peace, unity and love for all, regardless of race, gender or nationality. We will STAND for all and KNEEL for the only one - God.”
The post has more than 2,000 comments. Some people are thanking him, others are criticizing him.
Carolina Panthers fans shared mixed emotions with WBTV on Monday.
“He should not be posting his opinion on public forums or even saying it out loud," fan Mahogany Harris said.
She supports players taking a knee.
“There could be stronger ways that they protest, they could be protesting on the streets, but they are peacefully protesting so yeah, that’s perfect what they’re doing," Harris said.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater discussed it after the game Sunday.
“That was our way of showing unity that we’re all gonna be out there together," Bridgewater said.
PSL owner Tommy Weeks said he does not like the distraction from the game.
“I’m just there to watch a game and I really don’t appreciate my Sunday that I’m there to enjoy, paying a lot of money to enjoy, being disturbed by politics," Weeks said.
He believes the sheriff has the right to share his opinion.
“He certainly can post what he feels is necessary for his constituents to hear," he said.
On Monday afternoon the York County Sheriff’s Office posted a second message.
It reads in part:
"Sheriff Tolson understands that not everyone agrees with his opinions about this issue. The ability to listen to and respect a different opinion is one of the founding principles of our country and Sheriff Tolson hopes speaking freely will help to continue beneficial conversation and ultimately bring peace and unity to our society.