A high school baseball team in Iowa kicked off its season by taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-custody death.
All players from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines kneeled as the national anthem played Monday ahead of the Roughriders’ season opener against Ankeny Centennial High School, the Des Moines Register reports.
“We have a lot of diversity, and a lot of people of color,” senior Jayden Singleton told the newspaper. “We wanted to show our appreciation for social justice.”
The gesture at Principal Park in Des Moines was done in hopes of representing all city public schools amid ongoing protests in the wake of Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis, Singleton said, adding that some teammates have gone to demonstrations in Des Moines.
The team’s coach brought up the idea during practice “just with everything going on” and the players took it from there, senior Alex Pendergast said.
“We talked about it as a team and came to a decision, as players, to take a knee and give more attention to the problem at hand,” Pendergast told the newspaper.
The team’s coaching staff, however, did stand during the anthem, as did every player from Ankeny Centennial, WHO reports.
“No disrespect to the flag,” Pendergast told the station. “It’s simply to bring attention to the issues at hand, and I think we did the right thing.”
It’s reportedly unclear if the team intends to take a knee before every game, as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did during the 2016 NFL season to protest racial and social injustice.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday he would now support a team signing the former signal-caller after Kaepernick settled a collusion lawsuit against the league over claims that teams worked together to keep him off the field.
The Roughriders lost the first game of a planned doubleheader against Ankeny, according to the paper.
Iowa is the first state nationwide to resume high school sports following the coronavirus shutdowns across the country, WHO reports.