Kenowa Hills Football hosts ‘Hero Appreciation Night” without ‘USA’ chant

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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.

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  • No PC For Me

    you people really going to allow the ” executive board” to tell you how and when you are allowed to honor your country ?
    you do understand they removed your first amendment rights ?
    whats next, will you allow them to ban “merry Christmas” ? ” happy Easter” ?
    without a whimper you let them shred the constitution.
    damn sad.
    the “executive board” should be replaced with real Americans.

    i have no pity for you and what comes next, the slippy slope.

  • N

    I’m sad to see that there was zero fight put up by the Kenowa Hills community. It speaks to a much larger problem, that people are afraid to speak up in any fashion. Lest they be labeled by the powers that be. Bigot, racist, intolerant. Just for being proud of one’s country of birth.
    Freedom of speech used to mean something. So many fought and died to preserve our rights. I’m sad for my children. I’m sad for my country.
    Democracy was a grand experiment, never before tried. I hope it’s ideals live on in some form.

  • Okconference

    Who does Jim haskin think he is? He never informed the superintendents of this most stupid so called policy which has NO ramifications if it is violated??? He does NOT have the right to impose such policy. Haskins should STEP down as I can see he has been in this position to LONG. Need new blood with BETTER ideas.

  • Ella

    Every single person in that stadium should have stood at the same time & chanted USA over & over. What are they going to do? Throw every single person out?
    Growing up queer meant weird, gay meant happy (there were parents that even named their girls Gay) – & I get now we can’t use those words in that sense anymore. But you seriously are going to allow kids at a football game to highjack our country’s name because of an acronym & forbid people from saying USA?
    This is a sad sad sad day for our community. I’m ashamed of everyone who sits passively & thinks this is ok…….