Protests are, by design, a highly emotional subject. If a protest isn’t catching both attention and emotion then it’s not working. However, many people also feel that there’s a time and a place for protesting. The fact that emotions rise when protesting in normally off-limit areas makes it a rather tempting idea. But Monroe High School’s football team recently learned an important lesson. People are free to protest, but that applies to people other than themselves as well. And they might not be very happy about what they started. In fact, it can turn into a protest against the protest. That’s exactly what happened as Monroe Monroe High School’s football team prepared for their game.

The team was planning on emulating Colin Kaepernick by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Instead, the team was planning on kneeling in protest. It’s a contentious trend that has proponents on both sides. But two people who were very much not on board with the idea we’re supposed to be acting as referees during the game. Ernie Lunardelli and his son Anthony Lunardelli caught wind of what was going to happen during the anthem. However, the father and son team was less than pleased by the idea. They viewed the action as one of massive disrespect to the American flag they held in such high regard. Ernie stated that he’s not in favor of anyone disrespecting the flag, country, or armed forces. He made it quite apparent that both he and his son felt that the protest was doing exactly that. The duo went to the league’s commission to discuss the issue. They went on record that they wouldn’t be part of any game where the players disrespected the flag, the country, or the armed forces. And this is where things get far more complicated than we typically see in a protest. The father and son essentially decided to protest the protest.

The two men refused to referee for the game if players were kneeling during the anthem. The end result is that the game started without proper officiation. It’s a difficult position for a number of different reasons. One of the largest is that it can be argued as putting the game and players in a potentially dangerous situation. One might also see some potential for legal action against Ernie as a result of those conditions. However, it’s clear that the referee has safeguarded himself. He’s set up a strong defense for his right to counter-protest. He’s also highlighting the fact that the situation is risking the athletes being improperly officiated. Normally this type of improper officiation wouldn’t be seen as intentional on the part of the commission. However, Ernie made his stance clear in advance. As such, it can be argued that the commission chose improper officiation of the event. It’s clear that the situation itself shouldn’t be considered a win for anyone. Ernie himself has set up a legal defense over concerns that he might be run out of town. And the officiating at the game isn’t up to professional standards anymore. Instead of a professionally carded referee, the game was officiated by two kids from a chain crew. Earnie notes that a chain crew is only prepared for signaling alls, not actually making judgments. He continues by noting that they, and the people putting them in charge, are putting the students in jeopardy.