JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A former congressman for Northeast Tennessee joined the criticism of the ETSU men’s basketball team Thursday night.
ETSU basketball players and coaches took a knee during the national anthem before a game against the University of Tennessee Chattanooga on February 15.
Not long after, Coach Jason Shay said it was a unified call to action against racial injustice.
Some have applauded the team for what they did, while others in the community have expressed frustration with the decision.
Former United States Congressman Phil Roe said Thursday that as a veteran and ETSU supporter, he was very disappointed by what happened.
“You have a right to do that, no question about that. The First Amendment to the constitution gives you that right,” Roe said. “But it also gives us the right to be offended too. And I thought there was a better way to do it to get the message out.”
While some state lawmakers want universities to stop actions by athletes that could be seen as disrespectful, Roe said he doesn’t think you should prevent people from exercising their first amendment rights, even though he says some universities routinely limit free speech on campus.
A letter from several state senators was sent to multiple Tennessee universities asking them to put policies into place to prevent such activities.