Both the Des Moines Roosevelt softball and baseball teams made the news a short while ago when they decided to kneel for the National Anthem.
I am a graduate of Des Moines Roosevelt. And I wanted to address the coaches who allowed this to happen. Chris Miller is the head baseball coach while Erin Mussett is the head softball coach.
To Coach Miller and Coach Mussett:
As coaches to young student-athletes, you have been granted an important responsibility. As coaches, you are responsible for the things that are allowed to take place within your programs.
The buck stops with you, Coach Miller, for baseball. It stops with you, Coach Mussett, for softball.
These students are kids — not adults. They aren’t always capable of comprehending the magnitude of the decisions they make. Which is why adults are placed in positions of authority over them.
In this case, that is you.
First, remember you are coaching a sport. Your job is to mold kids into better people through sport — not perform some political stunt while our flag is displayed and National Anthem is being played.
If your team wants to make some statement — and by team, I mean every single play is 100 percent in (which I’m not convinced every player was 100 percent comfortable with kneeling, but instead feared the perceived consequences if they did not) — then wear a patch, do something during player introductions, do pretty much anything else other than choose to kneel during the brief time spent honoring our country and our military before the game.
Coach Mussett, in an interview with KCCI, said her team wanted to support the baseball team who took a knee earlier. And, she added, her team wanted to “support the cause.”
“We got to see a lot of injustice in our school system and the students that we have,” she said. “And so we wanted to just support the cause of the injustice that we’ve been seeing.”
I’m not sure if the KCCI reporter asked the obvious follow-up question, but I’m curious, what injustices have you seen, Coach Mussett, at Roosevelt and in the school system?
And, if it is injustice you’ve witnessed in the school system or at Roosevelt, how many school board meetings have you and your players attended to discuss this injustice with people who actually set the policy for your school system?
How many meetings has the team had with school administration to talk about this “injustice?”
If the school is filled with injustice, how do the players justify wearing a uniform with Roosevelt across the front?
As adults, I don’t think I need to go into detail about the sacrifice that is made not just by the men and women in our military, but also the men and women who serve in law enforcement.
The men and women who serve in our military and serve in law enforcement are often moms and dads, sons and daughters, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters. They belong to real families who want to see their loved one make it home safely.
The men and women who you are protesting are the same men and women who every day put on their uniform with the willingness to defend you and die for your safety.
If, God forbid there were a school shooting at Roosevelt, they would respond and do everything in their power to eliminate the threat while keeping casualties as low as possible — all while risking their own life in an effort to preserve yours.
Your team has the right to kneel during the National Anthem. But do you really want your team to engage in something so divisive? Something that, whether intended or not, degrades the flag, the country, the military and our law enforcement?
As coaches, you are in a position of authority over these students. You should demand respect and honor.
If you were addressing your team, and they all turned their backs and took a knee in protest, or plugged their ears, would you be good with that?
We have a crisis in this country — a lack of respect for authority crisis. I don’t mean to suggest authority cannot be questioned, not at all. But what I would humbly suggest there is a time and a place.
I’m curious, if one of your players had a brother or sister, mother or father who served in the military or served in law enforcement and was killed in duty, and that one player wasn’t comfortable with kneeling, what would you (or could you) do to make sure they wouldn’t be retaliated against by others?
As a graduate of Roosevelt, I’m saddened to see leaders of young people not just allow kneeling for our flag, our National Anthem and our nation but actually participating in it.
Knowing the individuals who were coaching at Roosevelt less than 20 years ago, I find it very difficult to believe they would have ever tolerated a player kneeling during the flag or the National Anthem — let alone an entire team.
Yet today, the coaches don’t just allow it, they join in it.
Ironically, it’s all in the name of “progress.”