With protests against the national anthem causing controversy across sports, the Ohio High School Athletic Association released a memo Wednesday to all OHSAA officials regarding the organization’s policy.
The memo stated: “As officials, you are there to officiate. It is not within the purview of officials to make judgments on personal, social, or political opinions of any player or coach. It is neither proper nor warranted for officials to express their pleasure or displeasure with how players act during the National Anthem.”
The memo continued, regarding the stance of officials during the Anthem: “As OHSAA officials, it is our expectation that you stand and face the flag during the National Anthem. Athletes and coaches have their expectations set by their school. These expectations are set by the school (and) are not within the official’s purview.”
The protests began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting, then kneeling, for the national anthem during the NFL preseason. Kaepernick said he was protesting the way African-Americans are treated by law enforcement. Kaepernick drew both praise and ire from fans, players, media and across social media. Protests in support of Kaepernick have sprung at other events, most recently at Monday’s NFL game when several Philadelphia Eagles — including former Ohio State Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins — raised their first during the anthem prior to the start of the game.
On Sept. 2, Rodney Axson of Brunswick High School near Cleveland became the first high school football player in the country to protest the anthem.