GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- It's the first night of high school football since the OK Conference banned the 'USA' chant at any other time other than right after the national anthem.
The decision was made by the executive board, saying the chant is offensive to the other team for the new connotation it has taken on. The news comes at an awkward time for the Kenowa Hills Football team, with Friday night being 'Hero Appreciation Night', where students were asked to dress patriotically in red, white and blue.
The theme was planned weeks in advanced, honoring police, fire, EMS and military members. It would normally be a night where the 'USA' chant would be encouraged, but Friday night it was nowhere to be heard.
"I think it brings the school a lot closer and it's a better way to show spirit," said Kenowa Hills student Maddie DiLeonardo.
But right after the national anthem is the only time you'd hear them chant 'USA' all because of a new rule announced Thursday by OK Conference Commissioner Jim Haskins.
"The students know specifically that we can do it right after the national anthem and that's it and we're going to stick to that," said Kenowa Hills High School Principal Brett Zuver. "That's what was recommended by the OK Conference so we're going to go ahead and stick with that."
The new rule is now facing backlash in the community.
"As a military mom, my son is out there fighting for my right to chant 'USA' if I want to chant 'USA' and for me it means the United States of America and nothing else," said Jackie Random, a member of the Blue Star Mothers of America.
"I don't know why they won't let them do that, I don't understand it," said Vietnam veteran Joe Titus.
Titus says he wouldn't hesitate to join in if the chant was started.
"Oh sure you bet I would in a minute," said Titus. "I might even start one."
"I have twin boys that serve in the Army and I would be saddened to think that we'd have to limit what we can say when they're out there defending our freedom," said Catherine Meintsma, a member of the Blue Star Mothers of America.
Some students at Kenowa Hills High School understand the reason why the chant was banned.
"I think it's really disrespectful how they chant that," said senior Megan Deglopper. "I was shocked that people would actually cheer like that towards the other teams."
Discussion of the ruling won't be over anytime soon, however. It's already on the agenda for next week's OK Conference executive board meeting.