Two high school football players in Ohio, suspended for carrying flags honoring America's first responders onto the field for last Friday's game, have been re-instated.

Cornerback Brady Williams and linebacker Jared Bentley ran onto the field carrying "thin blue line" and "thin red line" flags for the game played on September 11 at Little Miami High School in defiance of the superintendent's orders. Williams' father is a police officer, and Bentley's father is a firefighter. The players said they carried the flags to honor the first responders who died in the terror attacks 19 years ago.

School officials returned the players to active status following a review of the incident. School board president Bobbie Grice said in a statement that "The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11, but there were stances of insubordination."

An Important Statement from the Little Miami Board of Education.

Posted by Little Miami Local Schools on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Grice says the matter will be addressed as an athletic department code of conduct issue "with any potential consequences to be handled by coaching staff."

School officials denied the players' request to carry the flags onto the field because they felt it would be a political statement and would open the door to others who might want to carry flags for other political causes onto the field in the future.

Both players said they were willing to suffer the consequences of their actions.

School officials have done the right thing in reversing the suspensions. While you may see it differently, I believe that carrying flags honoring our first responders on 9/11 is patriotic and not political. if you feel the flags would have politicized the event, perhaps you can explain how.

We may also agree that Williams and Bentley are guilty of insubordination and should pay price for that. Students cannot be allowed to disobey school rules even if they are willing to suffer the consequences. Perhaps some sort of in-house community service might be more appropriate. Maybe you have some suggestions as to what punishment might best fit the crime.

I'm glad the incident has been resolved and that the students will be allowed to play ball this year. Here's hoping school officials move to include the flags honoring our first responders as part of next year's 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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