Two years ago, watching my first collegiate football game as part of the marching band, I was shocked when someone among us yelled for us to sit down. I looked around, confused at why we needed to in such a rush. A shout that a player was injured answered my question, but looking out on the field, I couldn’t see anyone laying down. The entire team besides one player was standing and most were huddled around their coach. It took a couple of minutes for me to realize the injured Albion player was just beyond the huddle of football players.
Standing when a player is injured from either team was a foreign concept to me. In high school, my team, even those on the field, would immediately drop to a knee if someone was hurt. It was a simple way to show respect and quickly alert others that someone is injured.
Over the last few years, I gradually adjusted to seeing our team stand, yet it still bothers me. This year during our first game against Wabash, I found myself irritated all over again. Wabash kneeled when their teammates got hurt and even when our players did.
Jackson, Michigan, first-year Austin Marks explains why he believes Albion’s team doesn’t kneel. Having played football since third grade, Marks certainly has had a lot of run-ins with teammates getting injured.
“In high school, players didn’t kneel because coaches would take advantage of the ‘injury timeout’ to meet with players and discuss the next play or adjustments that need to be made,” said Marks. “I think that here at Albion the same thing happens. Players don’t kneel because coaches and players are taking advantage of the timeout to meet together and discuss the game plan.”
Sophomore Rayshawn Robinson Jr., from Jackson, Michigan, explained that his high school team would take a knee, so he can understand both sides.
“I always thought about [if we should take a knee], and honestly I can go two ways about it,” said Robinson. “I think we should kneel for [an] injured player so we can respect that player, but on the other hand, maybe we don’t kneel because we are trying to focus in on our coach and listening on what we should do next.”
Using this time to discuss the game plan is completely understandable, but I don’t see any reason the team can’t listen to their coach while taking a knee. A large majority of the team is not part of the group using the “injury timeout” to talk strategy so those just standing along the sidelines could kneel, if not the whole team.
When I watched Wabash take a knee, I never saw them huddle around a coach, yet it did not impact how well they played the game. Kneeling should not define whether or not we win. Albion’s team should kneel out of respect, even if they do so in a huddle.
Photo by Katie Boni