Week three wrap-Enquirer sportswriters Shelby Dermer and Alex Harrison break down the top games from Week 3 prep football action in Cincinnati.
Two Little Miami High School football players are no longer suspended from the football team after they ran onto the field carrying a “thin blue line” flag and a “thin red line” flag.
Before Little Miami’s game on Sept. 11, cornerback Brady Williams and linebacker Jared Bentley ran onto the field carrying these flags.
According to thinbluelineusa.com, the thin blue line flag shows support for the nation’s law enforcement officers. Similarly, the red thin line flag shows support for the nation’s firefighters.
In a message from the Little Miami Board of Education obtained by The Enquirer, Little Miami school board president Bobbie Grice said the players have returned to active status after initially being suspended from the team.
“The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11, but there were stances of insubordination,” Grice said. “Moving forward, Little Miami is returning the players to active status and this matter will be addressed as an Athletic Department Code of Conduct issue, with any potential consequences to be handled by coaching staff.”
Following Friday night’s game, Little Miami superintendent Gregory Power and the school board conducted an investigation. Williams and Bentley, who are reportedly sons of a policeman and fireman respectively, were told not to run onto the field with these flags before the game but did it anyway.
Grice said the only flags that will come through the tunnel the rest of the season will be the flag of the United States of America and the Little Miami spirit flag.
“Little Miami Local Schools is saddened to see this story take such a negative turn,” Grice said. “The district enjoys an outstanding relationship with our local police and fire agencies.”
After Little Miami initially suspended Williams and Bentley, a change.org petition to revoke the suspensions received 19,512 signatures.
“(Jared) and Brady took a Thin blue and red striped flag out on the field after they were told not to,” the petition said. “The school suspended them indefinitely for supporting their fallen hero’s (sic). Sign this petition to help unsuspend the 2 student-athletes who have lost their senior season.”
According to Ohio School Report Cards, Little Miami’s district has 4,712 students. Eight-nine percent of those students (4,206) are white, 1.9 percent of students (92) are black and 4.3% percent of students (200) are multi-racial.
Donald Trump Jr. responded to the initial suspensions on Twitter, saying “It’s outrageous that these students were punished for celebrating our amazing police officers. They showed real courage standing up for what they thought was right.”
It’s outrageous that these students were punished for celebrating our amazing police officers. They showed real courage standing up for what they thought was right.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 15, 2020
Little Miami is set to play at Loveland on Friday, Sept. 18, Loveland Athletic Director Brian Conatser confirmed. The Eastern Cincinnati Conference website lists it as postponed. Loveland’s game with Milford last week was postponed because opponent Milford had an athlete who tested positive for COVID.
Josh Johns, a Little Miami alum, said he’s still planning some kind of show of support for the two players at the next home game, Sept. 25. He said he’s working out the details, but feels the point needs to be made that the incident had nothing to do with politics.
“Basically, I felt the punishment did not fit the crime,” Johns said. “Brady’s dad is a police officer, Jarad’s dad is a firefighter and this was meant to honor first responders on the anniversary of Sept. 11. If this was an online comment, I would say it in all caps: This was not political.”
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