SNELLVILLE, Ga. -- A spokesperson from Gwinnett County Schools said, Monday, that Parkview athletes who knelt during the national anthem were exercising their First Amendment rights regardless if they were kneeling in protest or in prayer.
Two Parkview football players knelt during the national anthem before their playoff game against McEachern on Friday. Typically, teams are in the locker room during the national anthem. However, there was a delay and Parkview was on the field.
At least two players were seen kneeling for the entirety of the anthem. Parkview declined to comment at the time and declined again on Monday. They would not specify if the kneeling was in protest or in prayer. However, a spokesperson from Gwinnett County Schools told 11Alive the players were going through their typical pre-game routine.
"Several Parkview players (including the two on the video) do kneel in prayer before running out on the field before every game; and due to the delay in the playing of the national anthem the team was on the field and going through their normal pre-game rituals during the anthem," the school district said in a statement.
The spokesperson could not say if the players were kneeling in prayer during the anthem or if it was for "some other reason."
"The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States does allow for them to do either," the spokesperson said. "With this in mind, students are not singled out or disciplined for praying or for kneeling for other reasons."
The Parkview athletes are the first known high school football players from Georgia to kneel during the anthem.
There has never been an incident made public in which high school football players have knelt in Georgia during the anthem. However, there have been reports of coaches kneeling in the past and players from other sports have also protested. Both players participated in the game.
The rest of the team stood and some players were even holding American flags. All the players were facing the color guard on the field.
There are no rules regarding players and the national anthem from the GHSA. However, it does state the national anthem should not occur less than 10 minutes before kickoff.
Parkview lost the game to McEachern 43-28.