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It’s unlikely that any DODEA-Europe student-athletes will kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem, coaches and organization officials say, even as high-school athletes in the United States joint in the protest.

The act against racial oppression, in particular police shootings of African-American men, was started in August by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and has since been joined by other professional, collegiate and high school athletes around the country.

The vast majority of DODEA-Europe coaches presented with the question declined comment. That list included coaches in football, the sport in which the protests originated and gained prominence, and volleyball, which has seen at least two instances of the protest at stateside high schools.

But a few football coaches did respond, and they largely said that they didn’t expect the protest to spread to DODEA-Europe.

“I do not think that we will have an issue because of the military mission,” Vilseck football coach Jim Hall said, also citing the team’s overseas location “away from the day-to-day occurrence” of the protest in the States.

Hall said he hasn’t discussed the topic with his team.

“I have not addressed the team. We have not had an issue,” Hall said. “If we do, I will then address the issue.”

Stuttgart football coach Billy Ratcliff echoed that sentiment.

“We’ve had no conversations about it,” Ratcliff said. “We just make sure helmets (are) off and people are quiet for the anthem.”

Some DODEA-Europe football coaches have broached the topic with their players.

“We have had a very brief conversation regarding some of the national anthem protests. My team does not see color, however, and feel that all humans matter,” Hohenfels coach Phil Rigdon said. “They see that the national anthem exists due to the brave men and women who have sacrificed themselves throughout history so that we may remain a free country.”

Rigdon made note of a very different incident involving the national anthem prior to Hohenfels’ Sept. 24 game against Aviano.

“We had no audio, so the team sang the national anthem with the backing of the crowd,” Rigdon said. “It was great.”

Wiesbaden football coach Steve Jewell said the topic has been thoroughly discussed around campus.

“I have had conversations with multiple students and my team,” Jewell said. “I have expressed that I support every citizen’s right to protest.”

But Jewell would prefer that right be exercised in a different fashion.

“I would rather see another form of protest,” Jewell said. “I believe many feel the way I do, that the right to protest is a critical part of who we are as a country, but that protesting the national anthem is not the right way to do it.”

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes


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