Illustration by Max Fleishman

High school football player who protested national anthem has suspension lifted after Twitter outrage

Activists came to Mike Oppong's defense—and the school responded.


Jaya Saxena


Published Sep 12, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 1:09 am CDT

This weekend, a high school football player was suspended for one game after following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick and taking a knee during the national anthem. But thanks to outrage on Twitter and beyond, that suspension has now been lifted.

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Mike Oppong, a junior at Doherty Memorial High in Worcester, Massachusetts, knelt during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice, reported Black Sports Online. After he announced he had been suspended, online support came swiftly, with activists like Deray McKesson and Shaun King tweeting about him, and many calling for supporters to call his school and complain about a violation of First Amendment rights.

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Oppong told the Daily Dot over Twitter DM that the school has taken away his suspension, and he tweeted his thanks to supporters earlier this morning. Calls to Doherty Memorial High got the busy signal.

According to U.S. Code, non-military persons “should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart” when the national anthem is played.

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However, the law has only been around since 1923, and according to a Congressional Research Service report, “The Flag Code is a codification of customs and rules established for the use of certain civilians and civilian groups. No penalty or punishment is specified in the Flag Code for display of the flag of the United States in a manner other than as suggested. Cases … have concluded that the Flag Code does not proscribe conduct, but is merely declaratory and advisory.”

More and more NFL, college, and high school football players are taking to kneeling during the anthem to protest racism in America. And just as a reminder, the third verse of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which is not typically sung, explicitly mentions slavery.

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2016, 12:48 pm CDT