Four of the five Georgia cheerleaders who knelt last year during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to protest police brutality didn’t make the squad this year for Kennesaw State University.
The school’s paper, The Sentinel, broke the news earlier this week, quoting a statement form the KSU athletics department that said a total of 33 applicants did not make the squad, including seven from last year’s roster.
‘The success of our football team and that of the cheer squad, which won the 2018 NCA Collegiate Nationals, resulted in a substantial increase in applicants for this year’s squad — from 61 applicants in 2017, to 95 in 2018 — creating more competition for the 52 available spots on the roster,’ the statement said.
‘Similar to all KSU sports teams, multi-year spots on rosters are not guaranteed and all student-athletes must earn their position on a team.’
But Toomia Dead, one of the cheerleaders who followed Colin Kaepernick’s lead and joined the protest in 2017, told WXIA she thought the move was based on her activism, saying ‘[this is] what happens when you take a stand.’
The ladies’ failure to make the squad comes as public sentiment seems to be shifting in favor of athletes, like LeBron James, taking a stand, despite continued criticism from President Donald Trump.
Four of the five Georgia cheerleaders who knelt last year during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to protest police brutality didn’t make the team this year, and one says its because of politics
A recent poll by The Tylt showed that 52.8 percent of respondents were in favor of athletes speaking their minds, while 47.2 percent thought athletes should ‘just stick to sports.’
Those results are in line with another poll taken in October that showed 51 percent of respondents were against NFL rules requiring players to stand during the national anthem.
That shows marked shift in society’s attitude towards athletes talking politics, because NBC reported that the same poll, when conducted in 2016, resulted in 52 percent of respondents favoring rules that would require players to stand.
The poll was conducted, both years, by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion with funding from the HBO series ‘real Sports.’
A recent poll by The Tylt showed that 52.8 percent of respondents were in favor of athletes speaking their minds, while 47.2 percent thought athletes should ‘just stick to sports’
Despite the apparent cultural shift, Dead thinks the politics of her choice are keeping her off the field again (after the ladies were temporarily banned after the demonstration last year), this time with no hope of getting back on the grass this season.
‘I think it played a role because I know my skills, and I had the skills two years prior to that, so I know what I can do,’ Dead said.
‘I know the people who made it. I know their skills and I know my skills. But I don’t think it was a skills-based thing. Not to say I’m amazing or anything, but I know my skills and what I had.’
The five ladies on last year’s KSU cheer team who took a knee with their hands on their hearts did so during a home game against the North Greenville Crusaders at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on September 30.
One of the women said they did to show their faith in the promise of the flag, after weeks of consideration, talking it over with their parents, and praying together before the game.
After the peaceful protest, KSU required the cheerleaders to stay off the field during the anthem.
University System of Georgia officials later determined the cheerleaders’ protest was protected by the US Constitution.
‘While we respect the First Amendment rights of individuals, it is the University of System of Georgia’s belief that everyone should stand to honor the National Anthem,’ the system said in a statement, at the time.
‘However, the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia has advised that the First Amendment protects students who kneel or sit during the National Anthem. Therefore, USG institutions cannot prohibit or interfere with those expressions.
‘The Board of Regents respects and is grateful for the values that our flag represents which guarantee the very right to free expression that allows these students to engage in these activities,” the statement continued.
In February, Fox News host Laura Ingraham told then-Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James to ‘shut up and dribble’ after he talked politics in an interview
James responded by co-executive producing a three-part documentary series for Showtime called ‘Shut Up and Dribble,’ which was announced earlier this month and is set to air in October; James is seen here handling the ball against the Brooklyn Nets on February 27 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio
After the cheerleaders were allowed back on the field during the national anthem in November, they chose not to take a knee, but instead all eight on the field linked arms in celebration of Veterans Day, the KSU Sentinel reported.
Georgia’s college cheerleaders aren’t the only ones to be criticized for taking a stand against police brutality, and being outspoken about current affairs, in general.
In February, Fox News host Laura Ingraham told then-Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James to ‘shut up and dribble’ after he talked politics in an interview.
James responded by co-executive producing a three-part documentary series for Showtime called ‘Shut Up and Dribble,’ which will cover athletes’ changing roles in politically charged times.
The project was announced earlier this month and is set to air in October, according to Variety.
James has been the subject of disparaging tweets from Trump, as have many NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.
On August 9, Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson were the first to take a knee during the national anthem this season, doing so before their team’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On August 9, Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson were the first to take a knee during the national anthem this season, doing so before their team’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFL team owners passed a new policy in May that would require players who do not wish to stand during the national anthem to opt to stay in the locker room. The owners passed the policy without consulting the players’ union.
Afterwards, the NFL said the policy was on hold and no new rules would be created or enforced amid discussions with the NFL Players Association.
Stills said he plans to keep demonstrating, into the regular season, according to USA Today.
‘A good first step as a league would be to acknowledging what they’re doing to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid,’ Stills said. ‘You can’t say as a league you support the players and the protests, but blackball the players that initially started the protests.’
While the league said on Thursday that no players would be subject to punishment for kneeling, it noted that the current guidelines remain in place.
‘The NFL has engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans,’ the statement read.
‘While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.
‘Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL’s policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do can choose to remain in the locker room.’
Trump was quick to denounce the kneeling, tweeting on August 10:
‘The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love……’
Trump was quick to denounce the kneeling, tweeting his disapproval on August 10
Kaepernick shared his own tweet, in support of the athletes, including of photo of himself (right), and Miami Dolphins player Kenny Stills (left) in tee shirts that read, ‘I Know My Rights’
Kaepernick (right) started the kneeling demonstrations, along with former teammate and San Francisco 49er Eric Reid (left) , in August of 2016, to speak out against instances of police brutality against minorities in the United States; The two are seen here in September 2016, prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
Kaepernick shared his own tweet, in support of the athletes, including of photo with Stills of the two wearing ‘I Know My Rights’ tee shirts.
My brother [Kenny Stills] @kstills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee. Albert Wilson @iThinkIsee12 joined him in protest. Stay strong brothers! [emoji showing front of closed fist].’
Kaepernick started the kneeling demonstrations, along with former teammate and San Francisco 49er Eric Reid, in August of 2016, to speak out against instances of police brutality against minorities in the United States.
‘This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change,’ he said at the time, as reported by NBC.
‘So I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.’
He has since filed a complaint against NFL executives, alleging collusion to keep him from being employeed in the league, despite leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
This year’s Kennesaw State University cheer squad was announced in May on the team’s social media accounts, Davante Lewis, a spokesperson for the cheerleaders who knelt said.
The fifth member of the group who knelt last year has not commented on whether she’ll kneel or stand during the upcoming season, which kicks off for KSU on August 30 in Atlanta against the Georgia State Panthers.