LAKEWOOD, Colo. – A Christian university in Colorado is making it clear the school’s 265 student athletes in 15 varsity sports will stand for both the national anthem and pre-game prayers.
“The racial issues facing this country are serious and racial reconciliation should be a priority for all Americans,” Colorado Christian University’s Jeff Hunt said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, refusing to stand during the national anthem dilutes the message of the protesters and portrays disrespect towards our country, all who are serving it and our veterans.”
The NCAA Division-II liberal arts college participates in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which has yet to witness a student athlete on a knee since professional sports players began the kneeling protest during the anthem in recent years.
The issue started with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s defiance last season, and has mushroomed into athletes on numerous NFL teams and other sports following suit. The disrespect during the anthem is designed to draw attention to alleged police brutality of minorities and other social justice issues.
The controversy exploded last weekend when President Donald Trump called on teams to fire players who refuse to stand in respect for The Star-Spangled Banner, and for fans to boycott the NFL over the protests.
Numerous NFL players responded to Trump’s criticism by kneeling over the weekend.
Colorado Christian apparently sides with the president. CCU officials pointed out that the school’s athletic protocol specifically states: “All athletes must stand for the national anthem and prayer before a game or sporting event.”
The expectation is nothing new, and it’s never been a problem, Jim McCormick, vice president of student life, told the Denver Post.
“We just simply don’t think that the anthem or the prayer before the game, for our athletes, is the appropriate venue for that (kneeling) to happen,” he said.
Denver’s KDVR highlighted a recent Facebook post by CCU’s Centennial Institute:
We respect our country, we respect our constitution, we respect our flag, we respect the men and women who serve and protect the greatest nation in the history of this world! #StandForOurAnthem
“At Colorado Christian University, athletes will be given the opportunity, support & training to know God personally, and to make Him known by the way in which they live their lives both inside and outside of athletic arenas in which they compete,” the school website reads, according to The Denver Channel.
A recent Reuters poll shows 58 percent of American adults think “professional athletes should be required to stand during the national anthem at sporting events.”
A similar poll conducted by Remington Research Group shows 64 percent of voters agree with Trump that players should stand.