Gyree Durante, a backup quarterback for Alright College’s Division III Football team, was chased off the team on Saturday following his decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. This is the second time the former player has decided to participate in the #Kneeling-#Protest started by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Durante is a Freshman at the liberal arts college where he joined the football team. According to ESPN, Durante had completed three of eight passes for a total of 35 yards and a touchdown during his college career. The player’s prompt dismissal has ensured his removal from the team roster and may have possibly had lasting effects on relationships with teammates.

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Kneel during the coin-toss, stand during the anthem

According to information disclosed by a spokeswoman for the Albright College football team, prior to the game on Saturday, they had organized a council of 24 players in order to discuss the possibility of the team kneeling for the national anthem. She said, "The football team made a team-wide decision to both kneel during the coin toss and stand during the national anthem." Although the decision had been finalized, teammates were still questioning Durante. A fellow teammate, Josh Powell, had been pleading with Durante the week leading up to the game, asking him to stand during the anthem.

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He said that he would.

For teammates, Durante’s decision was one that broke their trust. It was even described as “selfish” by Josh Powell. Clearly, the decision made by Durante was not supported by the team. Powell’s opinion is one shared by the entire Albright football team; a player who cannot abide by the rules specified by the team has “got to go.” The purpose of organizing the council was to create an environment that was united and that trusted one another to follow the final decision that was agreed upon. Although every player had not been a part of the council, the team had placed trust in the 24 players to make an adequate final decision.

Following this event, the Albright team made a speech for the homecoming game, in order to clarify the reasoning for their dismissal of a player. The speech was recorded by ESPN Senior Writer, Mark Schlabach. It explored the purpose of sports in college, stating that the "role" or players are to "expand the dimensions" of the lessons learned on the field.

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In other words, the lessons that players learn in football are meant to transcend their sport and carry into new environments. The team went on to discuss the "value" of differences amongst teammates, which is important for adaptability and cohesiveness.

Expanding dimensions

Unfortunately for Gyree Durante, he must face punishment by losing his ability to play on the football team at his college. However, he does not regret his decision. When speaking with interviewers at NBC Pennsylvania, he stated: “At some point in life, there’s going to be a time when you’ve got to take a stand.” For Durante, his decision was not based on the boundaries of the field, or the stadium he was playing in. Kneeling for the anthem was a choice that was meant to “expand the dimensions” of the game and take it into the realm of social justice.

If the Albright Football team truly meant what they said for their homecoming game, it seems odd that they would kick Durante off the team for his actions. Kneeling during the anthem is not meant to be witnessed by those in the immediate area; the action of kneeling is meant to give a voice to those who are facing social inequity because of racism and prejudice. In other words, the protest is not one that is meant to be restricted within the boundaries of a sport.

Durante must have been in disagreement with the final decision made by the team’s council, or he would have had no reason to ignore the council’s final decision and kneel during the anthem. The notion of the speech, given by the Albright Football team, that any sports team is perfectly cohesive would be ignoring the fact that every team is composed of different people. Punishing a player for making his independent decision to stand or kneel limits the individuality that makes any team one worth joining. Without individuality, a team cannot adapt, and players cannot learn from each other. It's about "valuing differences." #college football