Saturday, November 28, 2020

Three MSU football players protest during national anthem

September 25, 2016
Head coach Mark Dantonio watches the team during the second half of the game against Wisconsin on Sept. 24, 2016 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans were defeated by the Badgers, 30-6.
Head coach Mark Dantonio watches the team during the second half of the game against Wisconsin on Sept. 24, 2016 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans were defeated by the Badgers, 30-6. —
Photo by Carly Geraci | and Carly Geraci The State News

It began with a tweet.

MSU senior graduate transfer defensive end Gabe Sherrod spoke of taking the movement to the realm of college football.

On Saturday at Spartan Stadium, Sherrod, senior fullback Delton Williams and freshman safety Kenney Lyke stood together for the playing of the national anthem and raised their right hands, folded into a fist.

Head coach Mark Dantonio said he believes they have every right to do so.

“I've said all along and talked to our players, that to me, we talked about this three or four weeks ago, your patriotism and faith are sort of the same thing,” Dantonio said, speaking calmly and taking time to think about his answer during the post-game press conference. “That's your choice, and it's influenced by what you have experienced in this world.

“So whether someone salutes, puts their hand over their heart or does something else, everyone has a choice to make." 

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick touched off a storm over patriotism and protest last month when he chose to sit during the playing of the national anthem before every NFL game in protest of police brutality.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick explained in an article from NFL Media. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Following Kaepernick’s initial protest, athletes at all levels across the country began to protest in some form during the national anthem.

Kaepernick has since decided to take a knee during the anthem and many others of have raised fists just as Sherrod, Williams and Lyke did.

Colleges have long since been the epicenters protest and a place for young people to find their voice in the world, something Dantonio expounded on.

“We're in college, our young people are in college and I promise you one thing - that when the flag is presented in some respect, I guess it becomes much more important now,” Dantonio said. “It's not just, 'oh by the way here is the Star Spangled Banner.'"

Many have come out in support of players' rights to protest during the anthem, because the country affords them the right to do so.

“There are decisions that people have to make and as long as it's done in a peaceful way, this is America,” Dantonio said. “That's what the flag stands for. You get to do what you need to do and that's the beautiful thing about this country.”

The protests have also opened a racial question over the experiences of black and white people exposing ignorance and racism toward the two different world views. Dantonio, however, didn’t express that he knew his players experiences.

“At this point in time when the true enemy comes I guess we will all stand together, but I can't make assumptions for our players on what they've gone through in their lives,” Dantonio said. “All I can do is try to lead the best way I can and be positive and accepting to our football team and our players. And when we come together after the national anthem, we come together in solidarity.”

Sherrod, William and Lyke were not made available to media after the game.

Later in the day, football players from the University of Michigan raised fists during the national anthem before U-M took on Penn State. 

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