Amid ongoing controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick‘s protest, two referees take a bold stand against high schoolers kneeling during the national anthem.
Colin Kaepernick’s infamous decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice has garnered much support, with many others following suit. However, patriotic Americans and those proud of the United States military have taken offense to this form of protest, viewing it as an affront to America.
In a show of solidarity with Kaepernick, members of the Monroe High School football team decided to kneel during the national anthem before a game. As the players knelt during the Star-Spangled Banner, two referees—54-year-old Ernie Lunardelli and 27-year-old Anthony Lunardelli—felt compelled to stage their own counter-protest against this display of disrespect towards America. The referees made the decision to walk off the field and quit.
Ernie Lunardelli was incensed to see the teenage players kneeling during the anthem. He told NJ.com, “I’m not in favor of anyone disrespecting our country, our flag, the armed forces. What they’re protesting has nothing to do with the national anthem, and I’m against it, so I decided to protest for them kneeling, and that’s what I did.”
Ernie questioned why the protests must occur during the anthem, acknowledging the right to protest but not understanding why it must take place during the pregame ceremony, which should focus on football.
He stated, “Whoever is disrespecting that flag and the national anthem, that’s who I have a problem with. That’s my protest. I don’t care if it’s a baby, if it’s an 80-year-old man, anybody. I don’t care. Any race, color, I don’t care who it is. It’s not the way I was brought up, and it pisses me off that people are doing that.”
Suspecting that the high school football players might kneel during the game, Ernie warned the league commissioners that he would quit if any players knelt during a game he officiated. As the students took a knee, both Ernie and his son kept their word and left the field. Two cadets from the chain crew replaced them, leading Ernie to question the game’s validity.
Ernie argued, “That game should not count now because they did not have the right personnel on the field. These kids weren’t officially carded and trained, so they’re putting the kids in jeopardy. I’m not.”
Prepared for a legal battle, Ernie added, “I have a lawyer already set up because they’re not going to run me out of town.”
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