The members of the East Carolina University band who chose to protest our National Anthem deserve whatever response they incur, and it looks like they’re going to regret their actions.
This past weekend the ECU marching band surprised their fans when several of their number decided to take a knee and refuse to play the National Anthem.
The blatant disrespect was not appreciated, and when the ECU band came out onto the field at halftime, the fans made sure to make it clear how they felt about the display.
The ECU Band was boo'ed loudly during halftime of today's game. pic.twitter.com/iA2T21XDwd
— Pirate Radio (@pirateradio1250) October 1, 2016
The stadium filled with boos as thousands of irate fans rose to their feet to protest the protesters.
After the game ECU board member Kiernan Shanahan told Fox News’ Todd Starnes, “We foster and encourage free speech but that has to be tempered by time, place and circumstances. It was not the right time, place and (it was) the incorrect manner for these students to articulate personal dissent. It reflected poorly on the band…
The strong boos from the crowd when they realized what was happening certainly echoed the sentiment of the board. It was unfortunate and poor judgement for these few band members to disrespect our country, to take advantage of the uniforms they were wearing as ECU Pirate band members – to advance a personal agenda.”
The school’s immediate “official” response wasn’t nearly as negative as the school’s chancellor Cecil Stanton tried to stake out a middle ground acknowledging the upset of ECU’s fans and donors, while defending the band members decision to protest. However, just a few days later the school realized that it had erred in their initial response and the music department chose to offer a far stronger apology.
“We regret the actions taken by 19 members of the East Carolina University Marching Pirates on game day October 1st felt hurtful to many in our Pirate family and disrespectful to our country,” the directors of the band and the school of music and the dean of the College of Fine Arts wrote.
The directors said they met with the band and “have collectively reaffirmed their commitment to the unique privilege and responsibility that comes with wearing the uniform of the Marching Pirates.”
And then – the directors threw down the baton.
“While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protest of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward,’ they wrote.
The athletic department and the football team also offered support for the anthem, saying that the band “does not report to Athletics” and that the football team will continue to honor the flag and the anthem, each and every game.
College football programs would be wise to take note about the current turmoil in the NFL, where the TV ratings have dropped dramatically in the wake of similar protests against the National Anthem and the American flag. Most Americans don’t want to mix their politics and entertainment, and if liberal athletes and schools aren’t careful, they will end up only hurting themselves with their protests because people will simply stop paying to watch them play.