A pair of high school football players were immediately suspended after defying the school’s warning not to carry flags honoring law enforcement and first responders. However, shortly after delivering the punishment, school officials deeply regretted their decision.
For Little Miami high-schoolers Brady Williams and Jarad Bentley, honoring first responders isn’t just something reserved for a national holiday. In fact, since Williams’ dad is a sheriff’s deputy and Bentley’s father is a fireman, the young men have a deeper understanding of the sacrifice and dedication that come with serving one’s community in the face of serious threats of injury and death.
So, when the Ohio teens asked for permission to fly the Thin Blue Line and Thin Red Line flags at their next football game, they were gutted after school officials denied their request. However, it wasn’t about to stop the pair from showing their respect to the men and women who have risked life and limb to protect others.
In a display of defiance, Williams carried out the Thin Blue Line flag while Bentley held the Thin Red Line flag close behind him at the game’s opening. The pair raced across the field before stopping at the 50-yard line and waving their banners in front of the roaring crowd as the marching band played. Of course, the bold move wasn’t without consequence.
Immediately following the incident, administrators indefinitely suspended the boys from school and the football team for “insubordination,” Fox News reports. Officials justified their decision by reiterating that the teens must be punished for questioning authority.
“We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” Superintendent Gregory Power told WKRC. “We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective.”
Neither the Thin Blue Line nor the Thin Red Line is a political symbol, and both Williams and Bentley refuted charges that they were making such a statement. Instead, they clarified that they merely wanted to honor first responders who selflessly serve their community, adding that they would take their lumps without regret.
“Listen,” Williams said, “I don’t care what my consequences are. So long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy.”
“In our eyes, we think we did the right thing,” Bently said.
“If I would have had the chance to do it again, I would,” Williams concluded.
Although the young men made it clear that they didn’t care if the move came with a penalty, their decision to stand firm in their convictions has surprisingly paid off.
After the word spread of their suspension throughout the media, the school received a massive backlash from citizens calling for the boys to be allowed to return to class. So, the Little Miami Board of Education was forced to issue a retraction, reinstating the teens in an effort to quell the outrage.
“Moving forward, Little Miami is returning the players to active status and this matter will be readdressed as an Athletic Department Code of Conduct issue, with any potential consequences to be handled by coaching staff, the board said in a statement. “As the season continues, the only two flags that will come through the Little Miami football tunnel are the flag of the United States of America and the Little Miami spirit flag.”
Additionally, the boys caught the attention of the local non-profit group “Holiday for Heroes,” which wanted to show its support to the teens for their efforts. As such, Williams and Bentley were awarded scholarships for their bold statement, WHIO-TV reports.
“Brady and Jarad are true PATRIOTS, they did something last Friday that showed they are far beyond their years,” the group said. “These men stood up for a cause they believe in.
Outrageously, the school has bought into the propaganda that supporting law enforcement and emergency responders is somehow political. Of course, these administrators will gladly call upon these first responders the moment that their safety is compromised, regardless of their own political biases.
Despite trying to whip them into submission, school officials unintentionally made martyrs out of the young men and only emboldened them to stand up for their beliefs. Incredibly, these young men have demonstrated more courage and conviction than most of our elected officials, and they deserve every praise for it.