Two High School Football Players Kicked Off Team For Protesting During National Anthem

Two High School Football Players Kicked Off Team For Protesting During National Anthem

Two Houston area high school football players, one a senior and the other a sophomore, defied their coach’s explicit directives not to protest the anthem and did it anyway. Senior Larry McCullough decided to kneel and sophomore Cedric Ingram-Lewis chose to raise his fist in the air, while the National Anthem played. They both attend Victory & Praise Christian Academy. Coach Ronnie Mitchem, also the pastor, requested that they change out of their uniforms and leave. He immediately dismissed them from the team.

The mother of Lewis, Rhonda Brady, said, “I’m definitely going to have a conversation because I don’t like the way that that was handled. But I don’t want them back on the team. A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that. Actions speak louder than words. So, for him to do what he did, that really spoke volumes and I don’t want my kids or my nephew to be around a man with no integrity.”

But the coach had clearly instructed the players that no disrespect of the anthem was to be demonstrated, believing as he does, that it offends veterans and actually distracts from the issues and from the game. He requested that if they wanted to protest or have their political say, they should write a paper explaining their positions and distribute it, or alternatively, they could choose to kneel in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. These two players chose to ignore their authority, their coach and so they’ve reaped the consequences of that decision.

Coach Mitchem said afterward, “I don’t have any problem with those young men. We’ve had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences.”

Ingram-Lewis acknowledged his former coach’s explanation when he said, “He told us that disrespect will not be tolerated. He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there.”

Lewis’ mother claimed that “A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that.” And that is where she is wrong. A man of integrity keeps his word. He told the players what would happen if they went against his pregame instructions. The players went against them anyway and so, being a man of integrity, he had to enforce the consequences about which he had warned them. He kept his word. That’s a perfect example of integrity and ethics and morals.

In contrast, what ISN’T an example of integrity, ethics and morals is the player’s decision to disobey their authority. They are the ones who breached ethics. And so they have paid the price. So, hey mom, don’t ruin the lesson these young men have learned here by telling them that they are victims or that they were wronged. They consciously chose rebellion. They received the stated discipline. That’s a lesson we all need to learn really well. We cannot have a civil society based on people who think the rules don’t apply to them. And Coach Mitchem is EXACTLY the kind of ethical role model your son and nephew need to be around. If only they hadn’t ruined it.

It’s sad that they chose to be off the team. But kudos to Coach Mitchem. He has set an example of excellence in leadership that his players won’t soon forget.

Sonja Bochow

Sonja Bochow

I live in Newark, DE, am married, and the mother of four children; Liam, Brenna, Keira and Erin. I am also a full time Bible teacher and have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from West Chester University.

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