By Jarod Golub
Members of this university’s marching band, The Mighty Sound of Maryland, knelt during their performance of the national anthem before the Maryland football game at Capital One Field Oct. 14 — while they continued to play their instruments.
While they are not part of a professional football team, members of The Mighty Sound of Maryland have chosen to use their platform to try and help spread a message by joining a social protest started by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick over a year ago.
“I decided to kneel for the same reason people have been kneeling around the country: to bring attention to the issue of police violence in our country and the broader issue of systemic racism,” said junior economics and english double major Logan Neufeld. “My hope is that some people will see us kneeling and remember that this is something other people are upset about.”
According to members of the band, the decision to kneel was not collective and they “had a choice” in whether or not they participated. While “not everyone agreed with the message,” everyone was allowed to do what they thought was right.
“Before we stepped off the directors talked to us and said that we were allowed to kneel if we wanted to,” said junior music performance and education major Rich Matties. “They gave us the option, but all of us, whether or not we stood or knelt, we respect the other side.”
Interim Assistant Director of Athletic Bands Elijah Osterloh and other university officials declined to comment on the pre-game performance, instead referring to a Sept. 26 tweet from university president Wallace D. Loh addressing a year-old video.
While students at this university see an impact the protests can have, the increase in NFL players kneeling this season has caused controversy between the league and President Donald Trump’s administration.
“When you go down, whether you take a knee or are sitting for our great national anthem, you are disrespecting our flag and you are disrespecting our country,” said President Trump in a speech Oct. 17. “And the NFL should have suspended some of these players for a game.”
This is a change from previous weeks, when Trump advised firing any players who protested the anthem.
Vice President Mike Pence attended the Indianapolis Colts game Oct. 8, but left immediately after the national anthem. In a statement released the following day, Pence said he left the game because he “will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our national anthem.”
There was speculation about whether or not this was a pre-planned political stunt and a tweet from NBC’s Peter Alexander confirmed reporters were told to “stay in the van” during the game because the vice president might be making an “early departure.”
The social protest igniting the NFL has spread to other local schools as well. Aside from the Mighty Sound of Maryland, the Howard University Cheerleaders also knelt during the national anthem at their football game on Saturday.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Mighty Sound of Maryland’s Facebook page.
Jarod Golub is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.