A lone football player stood on the field during the national anthem, while the rest of the team protested.
The incident took place after the Millikin University football team made the decision to stay in the locker room during the national anthem -- garnering both praise and backlash following the choice.
“Rather than have our message be misunderstood or misconstrued, we are united in our decision to stay in the locker room until kickoff during which time we will engage in a moment of reflection to personally recognize the sacrifice of so many and renew our commitment to living up to those most important words: ‘with liberty and justice for all,’” the team wrote in a statement.
“Please let there be no doubt that we have the utmost respect for the sacrifice made by those who served or do serve in our armed forces, including many of our family and friends. Therefore, it is our desire to do nothing that could be viewed as disrespectful of their sacrifice.”
While some felt the team’s decision was a respectable one, other community members felt it was not the right thing for the team to do given the current political climate.
“I'm very supportive of Millikin sport programs, I'm very supportive of the college as a whole, I've lived here my whole life, however in this instance, I believe they have dropped the ball,” resident Jewell Young said. “If some don't agree with the National Anthem, then they should stay in the locker room and come out when it begins. I don't think the whole team should have to stay in because I don't think the whole team feels that way."
Following the decision, teammate Connor Brewer opted to stand for the anthem while the rest of his team stayed in the locker room, reports WAND. Brewer declined to be interviewed about his decision out of respect for his team.
“We all need to listen to voices and opinions different from our own and listen with our hearts and minds awake to difference,” University president Patrick White said in a statement, Fox News reported. “When the issues involve race and justice and differing contentions of what patriotism mean, all of us can stand more education.”
Brewer’s decision to stand was praised by readers all over the internet after a photo of him standing alone on the field went viral.
“Conner represents everything good about America. Unfortunately, the trend of disrespect is taking us in the other direction,” one Fox News reader wrote.