TOMS RIVER, NJ – TheNew Jersey Football Coaches Association and the New Jersey Football Officials Association, both of which oversee high school football in New Jersey in conjunction have issued a statement declaring that student-athletes may kneel during the national anthem before football games this season.
“Our organizations have engaged in meaningful discussions surrounding the need for persistent self-reflection that addresses the implicit bias of coaches, game officials, student-athletes and parents. We fully recognize that these unconscious prejudices are what make us human,” the two associations said in the statement. “We firmly assert they only become an indictment on our character when we stubbornly reject their potential existence along with the pain and suffering they may cause to others.”
With “some demographics” expected to enact a form of peaceful protest during the national anthem, the coaches and officials are expected to treat those student-athletes with dignity and respect. The statement, according to both groups is a “statement of solidarity” to stand shoulder to shoulder towards a “better future for our kids in which social justice, equality and racial harmony no longer elude us”.
“With that being said, it is our expectation that teams of various demographic constructs may choose to enact some form for peaceful protest during the national anthem prior to the state of football contests. It is fully anticipated that coaches and officials will treat those participants with the utmost dignity and respect as we support and recognize an individual’s freedom to peacefully express their personal, social and political views.
A warning was also given to coaches and officials of the member organizations.
“We also implore our coaches and officials to reflect on these events prior to the season in an effort to address any personal feelings that may hinder our ability to provide objective leadership that is devoid of emotion or partisanship,” they said. “We owe this commitment to our professional fraternities and more importantly the young student-athletes that rely on our leadership.”