CROSBY, TX (KTRK) --Days after the head coach at Crosby High school told players they wouldn't play if they didn't stand for the National Anthem, the coach and school district have revised that policy.
"I was trying to solve a problem before it happened," said Crosby Athletic Director and Head Coach Jeff Riordan.
He views the decision to kneel during the anthem as something that could hurt the team.
"I just didn't want it to be a division on our team," he said.
Riordan even got approval from Crosby ISD Superintendent Dr. Keith Moore.
"We want them to act like a team," said Moore.
But as the week progressed, word of the policy spread outside of the locker room. More conversations took place: discussions about First Amendment rights and respect. Both Riordan and Moore changed their minds. Moore says it came down to this, "Are you being appropriate by only allowing free speech that you agree with?"
Both men say they personally consider it disrespectful for a player not to stand during the anthem. But they know that everyone has a constitutionally protected right to express their opinions. They insist no Crosby player has indicated any desire to kneel during the anthem.
This all follows San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's continued protest in response to police brutality and what he deems inequalities against African-Americans and minorities in the United States.
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Moore posted this statement to his personal Facebook page, reflecting on his decision:
"I laid in bed up until this 3:00 am, sleepless as I struggled with an issue that is more complex than maybe any other i have faced. I have always led from my heart and that has served me well. I know that my heart is pure and that I have a genuine love and concern for all people. But tonight I am sleepless because two of my deep passions seem to be in conflict.
The first is that I am passionate that ALL men are created equal under God. The second is my passion for our country and showing respect to our flag, our nation and our veterans.
Being passionate about these two things has always served me well as the first has always allowed me to work through difficult situations with fairness and concern for all, while the second has driven me in my career to not only educate children but to celebrate and foster a love for our flawed, but greatest nation on Earth.
These two passions collided together this week when faced with what my stance is on student-athletes kneeling during the National Anthem. If my stance is to allow it, I am condoning an act by a team that represents our community and school district that can be taken as unpatriotic and disrespectful. If my stance is to not allow it, it can be construed as being insensitive and as denying our students first amendment rights.
I've read a lot of comments and articles tonight. I do believe there are people on the extremes of both sides of this issue that hold to their stance on it for reasons that I find unacceptable. Those are easy for me to discount. What I struggle with is that the vast majority of people do not fall in that category. Most of the people that are struggling with this issue are like me, good people that care about each other but see the same act with two entirely different meanings.
My life experiences lead me to see the act of kneeling during the National Anthem as disrespectful to our country, but I truly believe that there are many good people out there who's life experiences lead them to view this as an appropriate, peaceful and non disruptive way to be heard.
As a leader in this community that I dearly love, I do not want to sit back in silence even though that might often be the safe road to take. I know that my heart is pure and believe that God had a specific plan when he led my family and I to Crosby, TX. As a result of my faith in God, I am confident in speaking honestly and openly about my feelings.
So, what I sit here struggling with after several hours of thought is, is it appropriate for me to demand that the students under my care find another way to make their voices heard, because I personally feel there are much better ways to express themselves besides kneeling during the National Anthem?
The conclusion that I have come to after staring at the ceiling for several hours is no, it is not.
Am I saddened that our country still finds itself struggling with racial issues in 2016? Very much so. Will I ask our Coach, who I have tremendous faith in as a person to ask our student athletes to find what I believe to be a better way to express themselves as a team and not as individuals? Yes, I will. Will my stance be that student-athletes should be disciplined in anyway if they choose to peacefully kneel during the National Anthem? After much thought and consideration, No it won't.
A couple of things led me to this decision. First, I truly believe that we each see the world through the lenses of our own life experiences. I think this is the most difficult part that our society has in working through these issues because it is easy for me to see things from my vantage point. That is my reality, and even though I care deeply about all of the members of our community, it is difficult to see the world through another's eyes. I truly believe that if our country is ever going to work through these difficult issues, we have to force ourselves to see the world from each others eyes.
Another major factor in my decision are the statements I have read from many of our veterans that express that regardless of the message, they fought and many died for the right of individuals freedom of speech in our country. When I think about this, it helps me reconcile everything. I do believe that we, by far, live in the greatest country on Earth and the fundamental reason for that is because we all have inalienable rights. If I deny a peaceful, non-disruptive act simply because I disagree with it, I'm not sure I'm living up to standards of the nation that I am so patriotic about.
So to the students under my care, my personal request is for you to work with your coaches to find a way to work together to express yourself. However, as your superintendent I will support your right to express your first amendment in a peaceful, non disruptive manner should you choose to kneel.
May God Bless us all. I pray that before I exit this world, that these conversations will be a thing of the past and we can live in a world that knows nothing but respect and love for all people that make up this great Nation.
Please note that this is a personal statement from me. I have not run it through attorneys, my board, my wife etc. I'm not sure if this statement will make lots of people happy or mad. I hope it is seen for its intent, but that really doesn't matter to me. I have spoken from my heart and I think I can now fall asleep."