ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Abilene Independent School District (AISD) football teams will now be on the field while the national anthem is played during home games.
This includes games for both Abilene High School and Abilene Cooper High School.
The district announced the change after both the Abilene High School and Amarillo Tascosa High School football teams were not present during the national anthem this past Friday at Shotwell Stadium.
The teams were not on the field due to the UIL District pregame protocol items. According to Lance Fleming, AISD’s Chief Communications Officer, the teams were not present during the national anthem due to their respective UIL District rules.
Abilene High School is part of the 2-6A district, which calls for the national anthem to be played 12 minutes before the kickoff, when the teams are still in the locker rooms.
Cooper High School is part of the 3-5A district, in which the pregame protocol calls for the national anthem to be played three minutes before kickoff. Because Cooper played Odessa Permian, a member of 2-6A last Thursday, they remained inside the locker room during the anthem.
With the teams not being on the field, many in the community voiced their concerns on social media, outraged at students not being on the field for the Star-Spangled Banner.
Abilene ISD has since made a local decision to change the protocol, allowing for players to be on the field during the anthem for home games.
“It became very clear that it was a significant issue for the community,” said Dr. David Young, AISD Superintendent. “We support our students and their decision to be present on the field during the national anthem.”
Young said he and other opponent superintendents have agreed to have the players on the field during the national anthem in the remaining home games held at Shotwell Stadium:
- Odessa Permian at Abilene (Oct. 23)
- Frenship at Abilene (Nov. 13)
- Midland at Abilene (Nov. 27)
Also included is this weekend’s “crosstown showdown” where Abilene High School takes on Cooper High School.
He also clarified that some of these pregame protocol items (UIL District 2-6A) have been in place for a long time.
Dr. Young also added that AISD will support students’ decisions on the national anthem.
“Students of whatever age have rights under the first amendment to express their freedom of speech however they would choose,” said Dr. Young. “We support our students.”
The district said while players will be on the field during home games for the anthem, it must abide by the rules of the host during away games.
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