INDIANAPOLIS – Several parents believe their child’s rights were violated after officials allegedly told volleyball players they would be disqualified from games if they disrespected the national anthem.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association, the organization that oversees sports officials, said they are “silent” when it comes to what high school athletes choose to do during the anthem, but parents at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis have expressed concern.
“I think people should have the right to express disagreement if they want to,” Alan Witchey said. “That's what our country is based on. The minute we stop (allowing) that to happen we change this country and the foundation of who and what we are.”
Another parent disagreed.
“I think there are ways to show your disagreement without disrespecting something else,” Vouch Minnich said.
Bobby Cox, IHSAA commissioner released a statement:
“The IHSAA is silent on the topic of behaviors exhibited by participants at an athletic contest during the presentation of the National Anthem. The IHSAA by-laws provide support in Rules 3 and 8 with respect to conduct and the authority vested with the Principal to enforce such accepted behaviors.
It is the sincere desire of the IHSAA that all participants at an education based athletic event demonstrate proper respect and attention during the presentation of our National Anthem while respecting the rights of individual freedoms of expression.”
Licensed IHSAA officials have no authority to disqualify teams if players express their belief under the First Amendment, Cox said.
Witchey said he wants his daughter to have the freedom to choose.
“Kneeling is a peaceful way to express a view,” he said. “It's not violent it's not disrespectful.”