A high school football official took a knee during the national anthem before a game Friday night in North Carolina.
The Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News captured the moment before the game between Southwest and Croatan high schools. The official has not been identified.
Several athletes in the National Football League, led by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have protested the national anthem by taking a knee in recent weeks. Other athletes in college and high school sports have followed suit. But this might be the first known instance of an official protesting the anthem.
North Carolina General Assembly Representative Phil Shepard called the official’s kneeling “disrespectful to the country.”
“I just think it’s not right to do that at a high school football game, especially for an official paid by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association,” Shepard told the newspaper. “Whether you agree with what’s going on or not, he’s officiating a local ball game where young men and women are watching.”
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has not responded to the Daily News for a comment on the official’s protest, nor has the public information officer with Onslow County (N.C.) Schools.
Others voiced their displeasure of the official’s protest on social media.