My Turn: College athlete didn't turn to face the flag - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My Turn: College athlete didn't turn to face the flag

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I witnessed something this past Sunday I hadn't seen or noticed before - and I'd love to get your take on it.

A friend and I went to the UNCW men's basketball game against Hampton.  I noticed during the national anthem one of the players from Hampton did not turn and face the American flag like every one of the other players on the floor did.  He didn't turn his back on it.  He just continued to face sideways when the others on the floor turned around.

It struck me as interesting, so I looked at the lineup and learned he was not an American.  He was from Senegal, a country in West Africa.  So, I'm okay with this. He wasn't openly protesting the flag or making a scene.  He just quietly stood there not pledging allegiance to a country of which he isn't a citizen.

But my friend had a different take.  He says the player is here in an American college and he should show that sign of respect for the flag or he shouldn't play.

To a large degree, our country was founded on free speech issues.  But these types of displays get strong opinions on both sides and I'd love to hear what you think.

That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at


Emailed comments from viewers:

I think it would have been nice if the student had shown respect to the flag but I don't take offense to the fact that he didn't.  Perhaps he wasn't sure what he should do.  We have no way of knowing his reasoning.  I personally wouldn't make anything of it as you said, it wasn't a blatant disrespect to the flag; he just stood by silently.


I wish that he felt the need to show respect as he has been allowed to receive an education here. However it has been shown throughout history that anyone who is forced- well, it has the opposite effect. Our country was founded on the desire to get away from oppression, so I say give the boy time. He may have extreme pressures from family at home etc... In time, I believe he'll desire to pledge to our flag and show respect. Americans need to set the example as well. It disgusts me how many of our own citizens are doing other things when they should be showing respect at that time.


Who cares if he faces it or not, doesn't make any difference to anything. What if he twirled around like a princess why the others faced the flag? Would it change anything that matters to anyone? Why don't you speak on issues that really matter? Too many drunks driving on our roads and no one doing anything about it, please take this up in your piece. By the way, doing much better with the hand movement while speaking on camera.


If he is taking money in the form of a scholarship, Hampton should instruct him to stand in line with the other players but not require him to place his hand over his heart.


This is really a "no brainer". All you hv to do is listen to the words of the pledge. These are not idle words, The Pledge is suppose to actually mean something to the person saying it. Visiting somewhere doesn't make you a citizen or force you to change your ALLEGIANCE.
Under your friends reasoning, I guess we could just have every alien say The Pedge and make them citizens.


I think this is a good topic for discussion.  In my opinion I do not think it is a problem that the player did not pledge alligence to our countries flag.  Think of it this way, if you were visiting a foreign country, attending their college would you pledge alligence to their countries flag? You would only need to be respectful.


Sorry to say that I firmly believe that if you are visiting another country, for whatever length of time, you learn to recognize and respect the "customs" – the same for folks from another country, do they need to say the Pledge of Allegiance no; but respect what is happening.  Just the same for "Americans" being in another part of the USA to start with; not to mention other countries; we need to respect that country we are in and not be disrespectful – but that happens all the time!

There are way too many "folks" who come to the USA for educational purposes and employment/improvement – they need to accept the country they have come to and respect it; not expect to be "supported" fully for whatever they "need" ---

I was a very young kid in 1957 when our family was transferred via the US Army to northern Italy and it was very obvious that lots of folks expected everyone to speak English and not make any attempt to learn Italian.  Something was wrong with that picture – the book The Ugly American is still so very true.

Americans don't respect each other for the sole reason of political selection – again, something is wrong with that!


My opinion is that no non-citizen should be required to pledge allegiance to our flag!

We would not expect one of our college students in some sort of foreign study to pledge allegiance to some foreign flag. In fact, we would probably be upset with that student if he/she did.


Just because you and your friend were present and astute enough to see a discrepancy in a student ...and his lack of recognition

of our flag...I question why you had to make a point of it and why you felt you had to  bring it to the attention of all of all your viewers????

What did you hope to achieve???

Comments,like this ,can start controversy and make for "Trouble-making Actions" on part of others.

Some things are better...left alone and unsaid and not pursued.....Particularly when/if it was an honest,unintentional and/or perhaps..non-understanding...Mistake!!!

It would appear to me the better approach would have been to speak soley to him about Your feelings BUT not spread the situation with NO Knowledge of his reasoning?????!!!!   


Are you serious.  I can only assume he is black if he is from West Africa.  Had he been white and from the Netherlands, you wouldn't have even approached this subject.  He didn't square off enough for you?  Racism is alive and well and dwelling to much in the hearts of Americans.


Hi, I love these subtle difference too. I believe the player did the right thing. Many immigrants come here for education because of their love of country. He did show respect by standing yet did not turn his back on his country. He may some day have to leave his country, and become an American. I would want a countryman to take allegiance seriously be it now or later.  I'm proud our educational systems can make other countries stronger in years to come, it will make our outward efforts less.


I'm with you - the player in question stood quietly and did not make a scene, but respectfully waited for the citizens of our country to declare their allegiance to our flag and country.

The pledge says (paraphrased) "I pledge allegiance to the flag...and to the republic for which it stands...."

Which reflects the content of the oath that naturalized citizens take when they become Americans;

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;..."

Now, as an American, when I travel abroad I don't pledge allegiance to any other state, as that would be in direct conflict with my allegiance to the USA. To expect citizens of other countries to behave any differently illustrates a clear lack of understanding of what it means to bear allegiance to a country.

Take a look at the Olympic medal ceremonies - when the host country wins gold and their anthem is played the other athletes stand by respectfully, they neither sing nor salute.

The player behaved correctly, your friend is patently wrong.


You bring up a very interesting topic that I can see both side on.  However, if a person is going to come to this country and take advantage of what it has to offer, which is their right to do, they should also pay respect to that country.  I would never dream of moving to another country to benefit from it without having a deep respect and love for that country.  He does not need to "pledge allegiance" to our flag, but he can respect it.  To me, it is the same as an Olympic athlete who wins the silver or bronze.  They don't pledge allegiance to the gold winning country, but they respect their flag on the podium when it is being honored.

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