A high school football game in Ohio recently turned into a different kind of conflict, pitting taxpayer-supported school officials against taxpayer-supported police and firefighters in a race-tainted controversy.
Two young players at the Ohio game – one a police officer’s son and the other that of a firefighter – carried a “Thin Blue Line” and a “Thin Red Line” flag onto the field before their game Sept. 11, aiming to honor rescuers who fell in the attacks 19 years ago. Behind them came another teammate carrying an American flag. The game had been advertised as “Patriot Night.”
Both the players were suspended.
It turns out their request for permission to carry the flags was denied by district officials, according to the head of the Little Miami Local Schools Board of Education, and such disobedience could not be allowed.
By the following Monday they found themselves suspended from the team by athletics director Gregory Power, Cincinnati-based WKRC-TV reported.
Brady Williams, a police officer’s son who plays for Little Miami High School, told the station he brought the flag to honor people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. He and his teammate, Jarad Bentley, said the move was not politically motivated. Bentley carried the “Thin Red Line” flag.
The board of education and district administrators eventually agreed – overturning the suspension on Sept. 15.
“The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11,” Board of Education President Bobbie Grice said in a statement. “But there were stances of insubordination.” Grice went on to say that any punishment for failing to follow instructions would come from their coaches, not district administrators.
Power said he had concerns that the flags were political in nature and could set a precedent, allowing other flags that had the potential to stir up political controversy.