A high school football team in Ohio suspended a couple of its players after they showed their support for first responders. The players carried Thin Blue Line and Thin Red Line flags onto the field on Sept. 11 as a 9/11 tribute.
The flags represent fallen firefighters and police officers. Little Miami High School warned its football players prior not to bring the flags onto the field.
The football players said they weren’t making a political statement with the 9/11 tribute.
When asked if he making a political statement, senior cornerback Brady Williams told Local 12, “No. Not at all. I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago.”
Williams, who father is a police officer, held the Thin Blue Line flag at the game. He told the outlet he wanted to honor cops who died trying to save others during the attacks. His fellow football player Jarad Bentley carried a Thin Red Line flag. Bentley’s father is a firefighter.
“I was all for it,” Bentley said. “Because my dad is a firefighter, and if it had been him killed on 9/11, I would have wanted someone to do it for him.”
The players had asked the school for permission prior to the game, but when the school denied their request, they decided to proceed with their tribute anyways. Another school district in Ohio recently banned Thin Blue Line flags at football games.
“Listen,” Williams said. “I don’t care what my consequences are. So long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy.”
The school board reinstated the football players.
On Sept. 14, the school’s athletic director indefinitely suspended the players. A local superintendent Gregory Power told Local 12 that students aren’t free to disobey school policy. He said the flags acted as political symbols, and he didn’t want the players setting a precedent.
“We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” Power said. “We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective.”
After an investigation and and out-showing of public support, the school board reinstated the players. The board found that the players didn’t have political motivations when they performed the 9/11 tribute.
[H/T: Local 12]