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Visiting Nevada high school athlete takes a knee in Pahrump

Kneeling at soccer games has finally reached the high school level and of course, I am going to blame the NFL for their mishandling of this issue.

I was at a high school soccer game at Pahrump Valley High School on Tuesday of last week when the goalkeeper for the other team took a knee during the presentation of the national anthem.

I think this issue has gone too far. I am a Navy veteran and am just sickened by it. Have we come to the point that we are going to relive the Vietnam era all over again?

This kid is barely old enough to shave and he feels this country isn’t worthy of his respect? I find that to be odd. I wanted to say, ‘If that’s the way you feel, then get out.’ But I was civil and held my tongue. I even called to complain to one of the high school’s administrators at Desert Pines and was rudely rebuked. I was told though that this is a tender issue in both Clark County and Nye County by the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association.

It has been a week and I have calmed down. I am only boiling mad now.

Things are going downhill fast for the NFL players for they have made their point, but the perception is that they as players are doing nothing to resolve the problem.

This all, of course, started last year when former quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last year. It was a protest he said that was designed to draw attention to racial injustices and police brutality.

All of this could have been prevented months ago if the NFL had addressed the concerns of the protesters last year. The NFL chose to ignore it, hoping it would go away. We have more players taking a knee because of the hard stance the NFL tried to take and now the high school players are jumping in.

Right now, even though I am a hardcore NFL fan, it’s hard for me to be one. Last Saturday I had more fun watching baseball and college football to tell you the truth.

I would even go as far as sticking hot pokers in my eyes and call that more fun than watching NFL football at the moment.

I am just getting sick about this whole national anthem knee thing. I don’t know about all of you out there, but I got the point long ago and moved on.

Take a knee a few times, I think the nation got it. You’re upset with how things are going for African-Americans. You got our attention, now do something about it.

The NFL players have lots of money. Put it to use. Start dialoguing with police chiefs. Set up a legal campaign or do public announcements around the country, or even take a nationwide tour across the nation, visiting schools and town halls to see what people have to say. Do a study, gather your facts, but whatever you do, stop wasting our time by disrespecting the flag and the country and the men and women who work so hard to keep us safe.

I was so fed up with this issue last year and now I am ready to just stop watching the games. There you go, if that’s the goal of your campaign, driving fans away from the game, you are succeeding.

I know of a lot of people in this town that are giving it up.

A friend of mine at church took a stand two weeks ago. He came up to me in the church parking lot and started talking about hockey.

“You know, Vern, this whole kneeling thing has led me to stop watching NFL football,” he said. “I am now a hockey fan and learning so much about it. Did you know hockey has enforcers …” And he kept on going on about hockey.

A recent poll said that 49 percent of the fans disagree with taking a knee during the national anthem. That is huge.

The bottom line is this will hit the players in the pocketbook, not just the owners.

As a veteran, I believe it is time to take a stand with the county to solve problems. This is not helping. I believe in this country. I think it is OK to protest when issues need to be heard, but this protest is hurting every man and woman who has taken an oath to fight and die for this country. People, there are still soldiers in harm’s way dying for our country. Let’s get a grip on this issue. Instead of fighting about it, let’s unite and solve the problem.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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