SNN supports the girls’ basketball team

The Lady Spartans are a perfect example of the power student-led movements can have.



Senior Nilah Coleman kneels with her team for the national anthem Feb.12 in the Lakewood High gym.


Athletes have long been using their platforms with the public to comment on social justice and reform. When NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem in 2016, swarms of people initially rose up to call him unpatriotic. But since that game, other athletes have followed his lead.

Kaepernick’s teammate, Eric Reid, decided to join him in his protest. Later, Megan Rapinoe, captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, knelt in solidarity, and soon most of her team followed.

At first, most American sporting agencies tried to outlaw this practice, and called it un-American. But the words of the people spoke louder, and many of those same athletic associations have since apologized for their former decision.

In the case of the women’s national soccer team, U.S. Soccer’s board of directors has since repealed its rule to “stand respectfully” during the anthem. The NFL, on the other hand, has not changed its rules, but it is clear they are no longer enforcing the policy asking players to stand.

But big-name teams and athletes are not the only people speaking their minds. In response to the insurrection at the capitol on Jan. 6, and the inequality occurring in our St. Petersburg community, Lakewood’s girls’ basketball team chose to kneel during the national anthem.

After seeing the injustice in Washington, D.C., between how authorities treated Black Lives Matter protestors and white capitol rioters, along with local events like the excessive force used in the killing of Dominique Harris at a convenience store last December, the Lady Spartans felt like it was time to make a statement of their own.

“The team got together and collectively made a decision about kneeling and the inequalities that are happening not only in the United States but in our community,” girls’ basketball coach Necole Tunsil said.

After the Lady Spartans knelt during that first game in January, the cheerleaders followed the lead of the team and knelt alongside them. Inspired by the message the team is trying to send, the cheerleaders said that supporting the players was necessary and would help send a message of solidarity.

By making the choice to kneel during the national anthem, the girls are letting others know where they stand on the issue and are actively leading the Lakewood community in the pursuit of justice and equality for all.

While some may disagree on the idea of kneeling during the anthem and find it to be the exact opposite of patriotism, by choosing the path not of least resistance, but of leadership and activism, they set a standard for the rest our community.

It only takes a few people to change the hearts of many. Choosing to stand in the spotlight and share the message about what they would not stand for, the girls’ basketball team is a perfect example of the power student-led movements can have.

This is what leaders and movement makers in our world do. They act.