The idea that actions have consequence is a lesson that seems to be lost on present and maybe even several previous generations. It may be fair to offer that political correctness has facilitated the loss of consequence. I’m OK, you’re OK, no judgement. Or maybe it’s simply a lack of respect for circumstances relating opposing views, but consequence just never seems to be an expected result.
In the college town of Kennesaw, in northwest Georgia, the idea of consequences may be coming alive again, however, not without some controversy.
While NFL players may have so far circumvented serious consequences as they have taken a knee during the national anthem, the same may not be true for some former members of the Kennesaw State University cheerleading squad.
Four out of five former members of the squad, who chose to protest during the national anthem at college football games last year were not chosen to return as members for the upcoming season.
According to The KSU Sentinel competition was tough this year for the 52 coveted cheerleading spots on the roster. A statement issued by the KSU athletic department stated the number of applicants increased in 2018 to 95 from 61 in the previous year.
Maybe the powers at KSU wished to play down the idea that previous members were eliminated from the competition based on their protest choices, but it’s pertinent to the discussion to note that of the previous members, only one former protester did return to the squad. Three other cheerleaders from last year who did not protest were also eliminated.
The protest by cheerleaders at a Sept. 30 game — all of them African-American women — drew criticism from many in the area, including Republican State Rep. Earl Ehrhart and Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren.
In October of 2017, Breitbart reported on the controversy at KSU started by those cheerleaders who took a knee at football games.
“The bottom line for me in all of this is, if you’re on an athletic team, I don’t care what political statement you’re making, even if it’s repugnant and hateful like the ones those cheerleaders made. Play football. Cheer. Play in the band. If you want to make a political statement, do it in the middle of the public quad, and that’s your right in this country,” Ehrhart told the Marietta Daily Journal at the time.
The newspaper also reported Sheriff Warren’s disappointment at the cheerleaders taking a knee “on the very soil that men and women have died overseas to protect.”
Warren said, “My wife, Penny, had tears in her eyes, and we were both shocked to see such a lack of respect for our flag, our national anthem and the men and women that serve our nation.”
“Cobb County has lost sons and daughters at home and on foreign lands while protecting America,” he said. “And to witness these ill-informed students acting this way clearly tells me KSU needs to get busy educating these students on more than just passing their classes. They need to learn all that the flag truly represents.”
Last year, students supported cheerleaders by protesting a decision to keep them off the field until after the national anthem concluded. Then-univeristy President Sam Olens at first endorsed that position, but later reversed it.
Later that same month, controversy broke out when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported possible behind-the-scenes talks between the Warren, State Representative Ehrhart and then university President Sam Olens to keep the cheerleaders off the field during the anthem.
In one of several messages, Ehrhart appears to thank Warren for applying pressure on Olens: “He had to be dragged there but with you and I pushing he had no choice. Thanks for your patriotism my friend.”
Another text by Warren stated: “Not letting the cheerleaders come out on the field until after national anthem was one of the recommendations that Earl and I gave him!”
Olens announced his resignation in December after the matter was investigate by the Georgia Board of Regents.
So, moving forward into the new school year, will KSU see more protests from anyone on the new squad?
At least one of the protesting cheerleaders from last season is convinced that she and the others were kept off the team because of their actions.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 23, 2018
Maybe the these statements from KSU President Pamela Whitten give a hint at attitudes that will drive policy.
“As we begin a new academic year and welcome back fall athletics, I look forward to working together to further our successes and help our students achieve their fullest potential, both in the classroom and on the field of play,” she said, according to the KSU Sentinel.
When she was questioned further, the newspaper reported, she said in a statement: “While we respect the First Amendment rights of individuals, it is the University System of Georgia’s belief that everyone should stand to honor the National Anthem. 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.”
If you get the feeling that maybe the university does not support the protests, but may be hamstrung to do anything about it, you may not be alone.
The reality is, even if these young women weren’t cut from the team because of their protests last year, they found out that better competition can come along at any time. And maybe that competition will look just a little better if it doesn’t have the baggage of an unnecessary, pointless protest weighing it down, too.
Any way you look at it, there’s fallout all over this story. A university president has lost his job. Cheerleaders may or may not have been removed from consideration for return to the squad, and a town may be divided over a college campus controversy. It’s clear this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.
Because actions have consequences.
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