The governing body of Ohio high school athletics has directed its officials to remain neutral in the event of any student-athlete demonstrations or displays of protest during the national anthem.
A memo sent late Wednesday afternoon from the Ohio High School Athletic Association instructs officials to let school administrators and boards of education address any athlete kneeling or sitting during the anthem.
“Athletes and coaches have their expectations set by their school. These expectations set by the school are not within the official’s purview,” reads the memo. “It is neither proper nor warranted for officials to express their pleasure or displeasure with how players act during the national anthem.”
Officials are directed by OHSAA to stand and face the flag during the national anthem, and to refrain from any judgements regarding the, “personal, social, or political opinions of any player or coach,” according to the directive.
Rodney Axson Jr., a football player for Brunswick High School told a Cleveland TV station he received death threats after a decision to kneel and pray during the national anthem prior to a Sept. 2 varsity football game.
San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of professional and amateur athletes electing to sit or kneel during the national anthem, and the act in Ohio is another in the trend.