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Entire high school baseball team in Iowa kneels during national anthem

A United States flag
Players on the Des Moines Roosevelt High baseball team said they meant “no disrespect to the flag” when the entire team took a knee during the national anthem Monday.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Before taking the field for the first time since the sports shutdown in March, the players for a high school baseball team in Iowa decided to make a statement.

While the national anthem played before their season opener Monday afternoon, every member of the Des Moines Roosevelt Roughriders took a knee and linked arms as a protest against racial injustice.

“No disrespect to the flag, just simply to bring attention to the issues at hand,” Roosevelt senior infielder Alex Pendergast told reporters. “And I think we did the right thing.”

He added that there’s “just so much diversity at Roosevelt and on our team, so it’s our responsibility to stand up for our community.”

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Senior outfielder Jayden Singleton said the idea was to represent all Des Moines public schools.

There’s “a lot of diversity and a lot of people of color,” he said. “We’re just trying to show our appreciation for social justice.”

Pendergast and Singleton said the players decided as a group to protest in such a manner and had the support of their coaches, who stood behind the kneeling team members.

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Roosevelt activities manager Tracy Johnson told WHO-TV in Des Moines that the players had the backing of the school administration as well.

“It made me feel good because our kids are in it together,” she said. “We want those kids to be able to express themselves, and it was neat for us to see all of our kids do that.”

Roosevelt’s official Twitter account retweeted numerous photos and accounts of the protest.

A spokesman for the Iowa High School Athletic Assn. told NBC News on Monday that it is not against the rules to kneel during the anthem.

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The team hasn’t decided if it will continue the protest throughout the season, but the players seem happy with the unified message they delivered on opening day.

“If we had some standing, some kneeling, it’s not as big of a deal,” Pendergast said. “But to show that our whole team came together ... I think it makes a very big impact.”


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