National anthem protests expanded once again this past weekend into college football as Division III Albright College in Reading, Pennslyvania joined the trend.
The move came as a shock to coaches and players as only one member of the squad disobeyed the team’s plans for the anthem, which was voted on by the 24 players that make up the team’s leadership council.
The small liberal arts college had made a team decision to kneel during the coin toss in unity, but then proceed to stand for the playing of the national anthem.
But backup quarterback Gyree Durante had other plans.
Before Saturday’s 41-6 loss to Delaware Valley University, Durante defied his teammates and knelt during the anthem. As a result, the freshman quarterback from Norristown, Pennsylvania was kicked off the team.
“The football team made a team-wide decision to both kneel during the coin toss and stand during the anthem,” a university spokeswoman said. “This action, which was supported by the coaching staff, was created as an expression of team unity and out of the mutual respect team members have for one another and the value they place on their differences. It was established as a way to find common ground in a world with many differing views.”
Durante had only appeared in two games this season, completing three of his eight passes, including one touchdown. This was also the second time he had taken a knee for the anthem.
“At some point in life, there’s going to be a time when you’ve got to take a stand,” Durante told WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. “For me, it just happened to be on a Saturday afternoon.
“I was just taught you fight for what you believe in, and you don’t bow to anyone. I believe heavily in this, so I decided to fight for it.”
Albright College, which is made up of about 1,700 students, competes in the Division III Eastern College Athletic Conference.
According to the university spokeswoman, the players were well aware the team had planned plan was to stand and there would be consequences if they strayed from the team’s wishes.
“One football player, unbeknownst to the coach and the team, chose not to support the decision of the leadership council and team,” the spokeswoman said. “He has been dismissed from the team but remains a valued member of the Albright College student body.”
The team also released its own statement saying, “Insides these white stripes is a perfect world. Inside this space, the game does not care about the color of our skin. It does not care how thick or thin our wallet is, what kind of car we drive or by what name we call God. It only measures us by how hard we work, how well we work together and how quickly we learn from and teach though its lessons.
“On this field, nothing is given but everything is earned. It is truly a perfect world,” the statement read.
Josh Powell, a freshman defensive end from Tampa, told WCAU that Durante broke his teammates’ trust by taking a knee.
“We trusted him throughout the week, after time and time again he told us he would stand,” Powell said. “When you can’t have a player on a team that you can trust, he’s got to go.”
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