It’s been a while since there has been much in the news concerning athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, but yesterday afternoon eight players on the Ole Miss college basketball team took a knee during the Anthem.
Playing at home against Georgia, the 19-8 Rebels went on to defeat the Bulldogs by a score of 72-71. Most of the attention, however, was on the eight players who took a knee during the Anthem, in protest of a nearby Confederacy rally.
— Overtime (@overtime) February 23, 2019
According to ESPN, Ole Miss players KJ Buffen, D.C. Davis, Brian Halums, Luis Rodriguez, Devontae Shuler and Bruce Stevens all took a knee as “The Star-Spangled Banner” began playings, with Breein Tyree and Franco Miller Jr. joining them before the song was over.
The protest was focused on the fact that a large Confederate march was taking place in the area, and was expected to come directly through the Ole Miss college campus.
“To the people that fight for this country, my teammates and I meant no disrespect to everything that you do for us, but we had to take a stand to the negative things that went on today on our campus,” tweeted Ole Miss Junior Guard Breein Tyree.
Several Ole Miss players knelt during the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/AU2OiWcC6F
— Neal McCready (@NealMcCready) February 23, 2019
The players appear to have had the support of their coach Kermit Davis, who said, “This was all about the hate groups that came to our community to try to spread racism and bigotry. It’s created a lot of tension for our campus. Our players made an emotional decision to show these people they’re not welcome on our campus, and we respect our players’ freedom and ability to choose that.”
The athletic director at Ole Miss also supported the decision of the players on his school’s basketball team.
“These people that come here and they spill hate and bigotry and racism, we don’t want them on our campus,” Bjork emphasized. “Our players stood up for that. It had nothing to do with the anthem. It had nothing to do with anything beyond, ‘We don’t want those people here. They’re protesting during our game, and that’s not right because that’s not the Ole Miss that I know.’
“We talked to them about that in the locker room. We support them because we don’t want those people here, either. The university doesn’t want them. Our town doesn’t want them. They’re out of state. They’re not from here. So good for the players to stand up and make a statement.”