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Virginia NAIA Hoops Team Forfeits After Players Suspended For Kneeling During Anthem

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Bluefield College forfeited its men’s basketball game Thursday after players disregarded the school president’s directive not to kneel during the national anthem. Bluefield is an NAIA program in Virginia.

Players had been kneeling for several games, then continued to do so after Bluefield president David Olive forbid the practice, saying it is viewed in a negative light by those close to the college. Bluefield is a private institution.

“The basis for my decision stemmed from my own awareness of how kneeling is perceived by some in our country, and I did not think a number of our alumni, friends, and donors of the College would view the act of kneeling during the anthem in a positive way,” Olive said in a statement.

Olive, who is white, said he came to the decision on kneeling after ongoing discussions with athletic director Tonia Walker, who is black, as well as several coaches and athletes. He then told Bluefield basketball coach Richard Morgan that the players were not to kneel.

The players knelt during the anthem for the next game anyway. After that, Morgan kept them in the locker room to avoid any further conflict. But the players came back out for the anthem in the game after that and knelt during the anthem again — leading to the cancellation of Thursday’s game by the school.

“It goes without saying that this has been a challenging process for all parties involved,” Olive said in Thursday’s statement. “I have heard and I understand the perspective of our players as to why they desire to kneel during the National Anthem. I also know this form of protest immediately shuts down a number of individuals from listening to the intended message because of their perspective regarding the flag. No individual’s sincere motives are inherently wrong. But I continue to contend that we will not get to where we want AND NEED to get as a country in addressing these racial issues without making honest attempts at creating pathways that bring people together for a common cause.”

While the basketball players have been silent publicly, several Bluefield football players have spoken out about the matter. One of those players, Collin O’Donnell, released a statement from the entire football team. O’Donnell is a military veteran.

“Over the past few days, Bluefield College athletics has been put center stage in our locality over both the kneeling during the national anthem as well as the subsequent decisions made following it,” O’Donnell wrote. “As a football team, we can not be blind or deaf to the social issues within our country & the deep divide we collectively face in addressing them head on. This week we talked amongst our team and expressed that despite outside forces or conflicting opinions, we remain one unit, indivisible. One of the hallmarks of our constitutional republic is our first amendment right; this ability to peaceably hold different beliefs and opinions while living our truth are what makes us unique and separates us from those in our world who look to silence others on issues which are uncomfortable to face.

“As a team, we are focused and dedicated to one another. We go out of our way every season to make real, positive changes in our community. Whether we agree or disagree on the way which express our concerns …..when we step on the field we are one unit, one family and we believe in each other.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

16 Comments

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  1. Good on this college President for standing up to this craziness. If more college Presidents & team owners had the guts this guy has we wouldn’t have the amount of problems we do. You don’t stand, you don’t play…simple & effective.

  2. I think he screwed up by trying to explain himself too much. It would have been so much simpler to state that at this school, student athletes will stand for the anthem. Failure to do so will result in loss of playing time. Repeated violations of the athletic conduct code will result in expulsion from the team.

    • Agreed. No more of this hat in hand explaining. It looks weak and doesn’t command respect. If you come out with clarity and without apology it will convince those on the fence. This halfheartedness indicates indecision and uncertainty, which are not hallmarks of leadership.

    • I agree. You want to play at my institution , and benefit from a free f*#Cking scholarship and housing, abide by the rules. Otherwise, transfer to some Neo-Marxist sympathizing place that wants to protest the greatest country on the Mother F*#*cking planet. Can we please ignore Twitter, Facebook, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS et al They are the propaganda wing for the Neo-Marxists and, ironically, will respond to declining views and revenue in a very capitalist way by shutting the f*&k up!

  3. Sad how “Being White” somehow implies bias that you might actually like your country and not want to disrespect the playing of the anthem.

    Many of the black people kneeling have had great lives and are doing it because it cool and all the best athletes are doing it because everyone has been brainwashed by social media.

    I’m sure those kids who are kneeling can go to one of the many Marxist led institutions that gleefully encourage disrespecting of the flag.

  4. I’ll say it again. Find a better protest. It’s just lazy and unintelligent. The imagery of kneeling during the anthem of the UNITED STATES of America says you oppose the unity with your fellow citizens and you oppose the freedoms our military protects…FOR YOU. Think harder. No one who looks at the act without being told what is represents would know that is what it represents! It’s the equivalent of someone walking into a mosque eating a ham sandwich in protest of Islam’s treatment of women. Sorry, if no one “understands” your protest, because the insult and offensiveness is way louder than the point you “say” you’re making. It’s a dumb, disrespectful, small protest.

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