With protests against police brutality dominating recent headlines, discussion of Colin Kaepernick's now years-old practice of kneeling during the National Anthem before San Francisco 49ers games has resurfaced in the social consciousness. Many NFL players have said they will take up Kaepernick's peaceful protest of choice once the seasons begins.
On some college campuses, the national anthem is played 10 minutes or more before kickoff, with players not even on the field to hear it. Such has been the case at Penn State University, where athletics officials say they are reviewing pregame traditions at Beaver Stadium.
“We will be reviewing all aspects for game day for all 31 of our sports, as we regularly do,” PSU's athletic department stated to The Philadelphia Inquirer, as reported by the Altoona Mirror. “This review may include pregame timing and the location of teams during the national anthem. We continue to support our student-athletes in using their voice and their platform to protest in a peaceful manner in order to affect change.”
Penn State's conference, the Big Ten, has a new commissioner in Kevin Warren, who has established the Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition.
“It is critical that our student-athletes possess their rights to free speech, their rights to peaceful protest, and we will work to empower them in creating meaningful change,” Warren, the first African-American commissioner of a Power 5 conference, wrote to Big Ten leaders. “We must listen to our young people. Our children and future generations deserve better. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. The Big Ten Conference will be part of the solution as we actively and constructively combat racism and hate in our country.”
Penn State has nine members on the Big Ten’s coalition, including head football coach James Franklin, who is African-American, and athletic director Sandy Barbour.
As reported by the Mirror, PSU standout linebacker Micah Parsons did not specifically address the anthem during a media availability earlier this wee, but he did say the team will be unified.
“There’s always conversations like that that come up, and I just always tell people it can’t be an individual thing,” Parsons said. “Everyone has to be together, because everyone has to understand the magnitude of how far you want to go with this. If you want to come and raise awareness, then do it together. The fact that you bring a lot of unity with it, that’s powerful, and being together as a team is powerful. I don’t really say too much on social injustices, because we all know what’s going on. We’re all aware of the injustices that go around. It’s not something that everyone needs to speak on, because we all know. But it’s just something that, it’s the world we live in and we got to keep striving to make a change.”