Oakland Raiders teammates kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Kate Allison)

Q&A: Lehigh student athletes share thoughts on taking a knee

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The most prominent sports topic in 2017 has been NFL teams and individuals protesting the national anthem, whether by taking a knee, refusing to come out on the field or other types of actions. The protest has caused a wide array of emotions from fans, owners and the president of the United States. The protest, initiated by Colin Kaepernick, began with the intention of protesting racial inequality in the country.

The Brown and White spoke to four Lehigh students athletes to get their thoughts on the situation and whether or not they’d take a knee themselves.


Donavon Harris, junior

Courtesy of Lehigh Athletics

Q: What are your thoughts on athletes taking a knee during the national anthem? Are you for or against it?

Donavon Harris: I’m definitely for it. Ever since Colin Kaepernick did it, I thought it was a great decision. As you can see, it sparked a change. I didn’t appreciate the way some of the guys did it, like Lesean McCoy from the Buffalo Bills who was stretching during the anthem. It’s just the respect aspect, but people don’t understand it’s not about the flag. It’s about the injustices that are going on. I agree with all of the guys taking a knee and hope they continue.

Q: You guys aren’t usually on the field during the national anthem, but if you did have the opportunity, would you take a knee?

DH: If it came down to it and we were out on the field during the anthem, I would take a knee. I’m a young African American male, so I can relate. I think it’s big to stand up for what you think is right, whether people agree or not. At the end of the day, it’s bigger than that. People don’t understand the real issue. And when I say people, for the most part, I’m talking about white people because they don’t deal with it on an everyday basis. They’re ignorant to the fact black males are being killed for absolutely nothing. Until everybody opens their eyes, then we got to keep making a statement for what we believe is right. I’m sure plenty of other people would on my team.

Q: What do you think about President Trump’s reaction to the kneeling?

DH: He said “get that SOB off the field” for anybody who “disrespects” the flag. That alone says a lot about how he feels about anybody trying to speak up. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. That caused a huge uproar in the NFL and sparked many teams to not even go out on the field during the national anthem. It was him versus the NFL, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be about. It got to a point where people were taking a knee just because of what Trump said. Once that happened, it wasn’t about the injustices anymore. This is bigger than football, and it’s bigger than the flag. It’s a crazy world, man.

Q: If athletes on Lehigh’s campus created their own way of “taking a knee,” metaphorically, would you encourage this?

DH: It’s something I would definitely look into. As Lehigh student athletes, I hope we can find a way to stand up for what’s right. This is something that has gone on for a while but is just now being brought to the light. I have two years left and hope I can make some type of change. I think it starts first as a team. I think it’s odd we’re in the locker room for the national anthem. I think we should be out there and do something united because we all obviously have our different opinions.


Quinci Mann, senior

Lehigh sophomore guard Quinci Mann keeps the ball away from Colgate University sophomore guard Kateri Stone at Stabler Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Lehigh won the game with a final score of 83-74. (Hallie Fuchs/B&W Photo)

Q: What are your thoughts on athletes taking a knee during the national anthem? Are you for or against it?

Quinci Mann: I am for it because one of the greatest freedoms we have in this country is freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Kneeling certainly falls under that right. So I think that you’re allowed to express yourself in any way you feel. I support the kneeling just in terms of what the kneeling is for. It’s for racial injustice, and that definitely exists.

Q: I’m not sure what the policy for NCAA athletes is, but have you ever thought about taking a knee?

QM: Well, there is no rule saying we can’t take a knee. The only restrictions we have are your coach or athletic department might not want you to, but there is no rule. With that being said, I really don’t know how I feel about that. I’m not sure how conducive Lehigh would be to me doing that, but I definitely believe in fighting the good battle. I also believe you can’t fight every battle. I’m sure you’ve seen the work I’ve done with ASCEND. As the only person of color on my basketball team, that’s just another battle in itself. It’s something I have to sit down about and weigh the pros and cons of, so I guess that’s the long way of saying I haven’t really thought about it.

Q: What do you think about President Trump’s reaction to the kneeling?

QM: This has been way too politicized. This isn’t about the president and the military troops or whatever causes both sides have turned this into. It’s about someone’s opinion on racial inequality in this country. The specific points that Colin Kaepernick has highlighted for his reason to kneel are, in fact, true, so I think the politicized nature that has stemmed from this has just been a sidebar from what the real issues are. Shame on the NFL for not employing Kaepernick for his skill because he stood for what he believed in.

Q: If athletes on Lehigh’s campus created their own way of “taking a knee,” metaphorically, would you encourage this?

QM: I always believe strength is in numbers. As athletes, we are seen as leaders on campus, and we bring a lot of attention to the campus in ways that other students can’t. If we bind together to make a statement about anything, I think the university would have to listen, so I would definitely support it.


Marc Raye-Redmond, senior

Courtesy of Lehigh Athletics

Q: What are your thoughts on athletes taking a knee during the national anthem? Are you for or against it?

Marc Raye-Redmond: I’m for it. I understand why they’re doing it, and I appreciate that they’re using their platform to give a voice to people who wouldn’t be heard otherwise.

Q: You guys aren’t usually on the field during the national anthem, but if you did have the opportunity, would you take a knee?

MR: It depends on how the coaches feel about it. If it’s something the team is doing as a whole, then yes, but I wouldn’t want to do it and be a distraction when our team is getting ready for a game to play. I’m more focused on winning than anything else.

Q: What do you think about President Trump’s reaction to the kneeling?

MR: I’m not a fan of how President Trump handled it. I feel like the protest has been misconstrued by a lot of people who have just taken it at face value. They assume they’re protesting the flag or the national anthem. They’re missing the point of the actual protest, in my opinion.


Kareem Montgomery, junior 

Junior defensive back Kareem Montgomery runs onto the field prior to Lehigh’s matchup against Yale University on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Goodman Stadium. Lehigh lost to Yale 56-28.

Q: What are your thoughts on athletes taking a knee during the national anthem? Are you for or against it?

Kareem Montgomery: I’m for it for sure. They can protest whatever they believe in. Freedom of speech. It’s their league, so they should be able to do that.

Q: You guys aren’t usually on the field during the national anthem, but if you did have the opportunity, would you take a knee?

KM: I would first have a talk with my teammates and coaches to make sure I’m not disrespecting anyone. I would let them know why I’m doing it. I believe I would (take a knee) after having that conversation because you have to realize that some things are bigger than football. NFL players sacrifice a lot by playing football, but they also have their families, and if they see something that’s unjust, they have a duty to stand up for it because of the platforms they have.

Q: What do you think about President Trump’s reaction to the kneeling?

KM: There was miscommunication. It was disrespectful from my point of view as an athlete. It was disrespectful to call them privileged guys because they earned the platform to speak up. He was out of line to tell them they should be fired. He should still do what he does and let them do what they do.

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9 Comments

  1. Good that football team isn’t on the field for National Anthem for Lehigh games based upon these guys attitudes. Would be the last Lehigh game I would attend!!

  2. I support and attend all football, basketball and softball home games. If I see athletes kneeling for the anthem I will turn in my Lehigh gear and end my support of the programs and university.

    • Also, how do Lehigh students not know how to apply freedom of speech relative to employee employee relationships? Sure, kneel if you want, the teams are also within their rights to fire you for such displays

  3. Jason is right on the money here regarding the NFL where an extensive list of arrested athletes make huge money whereas they wouldn’t have their jobs in private industry elsewhere. If college athletes followed suit, scholarships should be pulled & given to other players waiting in the wings on taxi squads.

  4. John L Daniel '60 ''61 on

    The debate is silly. Consider the following.
    Among Christian denominations Lutherans and Orthodox generally stand for prayer in public worship. Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist worshippers generally sit for prayer. Catholics Anglicans/Episcopalians knee. All address the same deity. Can any of these postures be regarded as more valid.
    I submit those critical of NFL players kneeing should be less judgmental.

  5. Robert Davenport on

    What we need in this country is more dissension! It’s obvious in even this smaii sampling of comments that there is a diffenence of opinion on this topic. Display of the flag and playing of the national anthem is meant to respect the idea of what the USA stands for, not for what it is or has been. A recent change gives military veterans the right to salute the flag rather than hold a hand over the heart. A change meant to respect the flag and the saluter’s service.

    The idea of the United States is that all individuals are equal in the eyes of the law. Over two hundred years of history has not bought this idea to its logical conclusion. There are too many unarmed African-Americans shot by police. Come up with a way to respectfully bring equality about. I’ve always liked a moment of silence.

    Colin Kaepernick did not respect the flag by kneeling; he did not disrespect the flag by kneeling but he disrespected those who respect the flag. The over-reaction to this action I feel has disrespected the idea behind the flag. We should be more upset by the death of innocents than the lack of respect for our flag.

    We are called to do better than this.

  6. I back these athletes’ opinions on the matter. The injustice and inequality are plain for all to see, thanks partly to Kaepernick’s campaign. And in terms of brutality, the police do a difficult job for sure, but people shouldn’t be shot for busted brake lights (Philando Castile) or assaulted and arrested when calling the police for help (Jacqueline Craig).

    For every fan that walks out if a Lehigh athlete kneels during the anthem, ten more will walk in.

  7. Seems racist that only black students were interviewed/quoted. Did the author not want to interview anyone that could have an opposing view- with respect for our country’s flag and anthem?

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