If you don’t think that professionals athletes are role models for young people in this country — only a truly intellectually challenged individual would think so, but there’s plenty of those around these days — allow me to submit exhibit A.
As we are all well aware, the whole “taking a knee” thing continues to be a big issue both in our culture and in the NFL, as players keep “protesting” racial inequality by disrespecting the flag and our anthem. This has caused a considerable dip in the ratings, as well as costing a few players sponsorships.
However, it now seems that this nonsense has spread well beyond the realm of professional sports and has invaded high school football as well.
Players for a New Jersey high school football team decided to mirror their big league idols by kneeling during the National Anthem, a move which outraged several referees who decided to hold a protest of their own by walking off the field.
Two New Jersey high school football referees walked off the field in protest at a game Friday night after three players from the home team took a knee during the national anthem — and one of the refs made his feelings very clear afterward, saying the anthem protest movement “pisses me off.”
About three players from Monroe High School in Middlesex County took a knee during the national anthem before their game against visiting Colts Neck.
Two officials — Ernie Lunardelli, 54, and his son, Anthony Lunardelli, 27 — stood for the anthem but then left the field after seeing the players taking a knee, NJ.com reported.
Their spots on the five-person crew were filled by junior cadet officials at the game, Ernie Lunardelli added to the outlet.
“I’m not in favor of anyone disrespecting our country, our flag, the armed forces,” he told the outlet. “What they’re protesting has nothing to do with the national anthem, and I’m against it, so I decided to protest for them kneeling …”
Lunardelli added to NJ.com that he told Thomas Paulikas — the officials assigner for the Greater Middlesex Conference — that he would walk off the field if any players took a knee for the anthem at games he officiated.
“Whoever is disrespecting that flag and the national anthem, that’s who I have a problem with,” Lunardelli added to the outlet. “That’s my protest. I don’t care if it’s a baby, if it’s an 80-year-old man, anybody. I don’t care. Any race, color, I don’t care who it is. It’s not the way I was brought up, and it pisses me off that people are doing that.”
“What hurts the most is these kids don’t even know why they’re kneeling,” he also told NJ.com. “I just don’t understand why this is happening, especially at the high school level. If you’re not happy with being in America, go somewhere else. It’s that simple.”
“I have a lawyer already set up because they’re not going to run me out of town,” Lunardeli added to the outlet. “They’re going to try to blackball me. I know what’s going to happen.”
The other referee, Anthony Lunardelli, also spoke with the media, saying that school officials are planning to file a complaint with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, attempting to say the actions of the two refs put players’ safety at risk.
Listen, there’s nothing wrong with protesting against what you believe is an issue that truly needs to be addressed in this country. That’s one of the many things that makes America so beautiful.
However, there’s a right time and a wrong time to do so, and when the National Anthem is playing is the wrong time. At least have the decency to respect the men and women who have served this great country, many of whom have died to secure our liberty and way of life.
What you choose to do before and after that time as protest is totally up to the individual, and I for one absolutely respect the individual’s right to let their voice be heard.