High school football players Brady Williams and Jarad Bentley drew attention on Sept. 11 by carrying Thin Blue Line and Thin Red Line flags onto the field prior to a game. The school district suspended the two players but later reinstated them. Now both players have been awarded scholarships by a non-profit organization.
According to FOX News, Holiday for Heroes said that it is awarding Bentley and Williams scholarships for their statement on the field. "Brady and Jarad are true PATRIOTS, they did something last Friday that showed they are far beyond their years," the group said in a statement. "These men stood up for a cause they believe in. As they took the field with flags in hand it reminded us how we felt 19 years ago, heartbroken yet strong and united."
Two Little Miami football players pay the price for civil disobedience. They were told not to carry onto the field thin blue line and thin red line flags at their 9/11 game. They did anyway. The school has now suspended them from the team indefinitely. #ThinBlueLine #ThinRedLine pic.twitter.com/19y9GAvaxr— David Winter (@DavidWinterTV) September 14, 2020
According to WJAC, Holiday for Heroes did not reveal that amount of the scholarships. The organization did say that the flag-carrying was unintentionally turned into a political statement. Williams had previously explained to reporters that his father is a police officer and that he wanted to honor officers that gave their lives to protect others.
"No. Not at all," he told the news station. "I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago." Williams also said that he didn't care what the consequences were for his actions on the field. "So long as my message gets across, I'm happy," he said.
Bentley expressed a similar sentiment at the time when explaining why he carried a Thin Red Line flag onto the field. "I was all for it," he said. "Because my dad is a firefighter, and if it had been him killed on 9/11, I would have wanted someone to do it for him."
The school board said at the time that both players were suspended due to their "insubordination." Superintendent Gregory Power said that he saw the flags as a political statement and that he didn't want to "set a precedent" for other students. He also explained that the school couldn't let students decide to do something after being told not to.
The Little Miami Board of Education conducted an investigation into the incident and later determined that there was not a political statement prior to the Friday night game. However, the statement also said that the only flags allowed in the tunnel are the school's spirit flag and the American flag.