Concerns about CT students copying NFL national anthem protests


CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) — The people who run the athletic conferences that your children play in here in Connecticut are keeping their eyes on the NFL players’ national anthem protests.

“Absolutely there’s concern,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools. She’s in charge of the commissioners who run the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference). “Anytime our high school folks are watching the example set by collegiate, pro, or other athletes out there, for whatever reason, we’re concerned that those behaviors then trickle down into the high school ranks.”

At a meeting on Monday, one of the commissioners told Dr. Niehoff his staff is starting to get calls from parents.

“We did have an athletic director contact me in regards to a parent expressing concern about what that school would do should there be a protest,” said Dave Schulz, FCIAC Commissioner.Related Content: Trump revels in latest war of words with professional sports

Dr. Niehoff told News 8 if a student is disruptive during the national anthem, the CIAC leaves it up to each individual school to punish or discipline the student. The CIAC would step in in a different way.

“The first thing we do if we learn of something is to contact the school and work with the school to see if we can support them in any way,” said Dr. Niehoff. “Whether that’s facilitating conversations with the school personnel, with the students, families, community, we stand ready to help. We do not punish a school for something that would happen like this.”

So far, the commissioners say there has not been any chatter from high school coaches that any type of similar protest is being planned here in Connecticut.

“We haven’t seen examples like that in Connecticut,” Dr. Niehoff said. “I’ll say yet — not saying that we’re counting on seeing them.”Related Content: NFL teams respond to Trump with non-participation, kneeling in protest

Dr. Niehoff says this is a tough issue that weighs tradition versus individual rights and freedom of expression.

“Voices are important and opinions are important, that’s democracy” Dr. Niehoff said. “But we don’t want to do that at the expense of other folks’ rights.”

“We would expect them to honor — that, if they don’t want to partipate — then please be quiet while those who participate do,” she said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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2021 UConn Men’s Basketball
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12/21 @ Marquette 9:00pm FS1
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1/12 vs. St. John’s 8:30pm FS1
1/15 @ Providence 2:00pm FS1
1/20 @ Butler 9:00pm FS1
1/25 @ Georgetown 8:30pm CBS SN
1/29 @ DePaul 6:30pm FS1
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2/8 vs. Marquette 6:30pm FS1
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