Kneeling during the national anthem is no longer just about the players. A high school referee in North Carolina took a knee before a game last Friday night.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) October 23, 2016
The official, one of five for a game between Croatan and Southwest, is yet to be identified. According to JDNews.com (Jacksonville, N.C.), the protest incited "little reaction on the field or in the stands."
However, as the image spread across the state, sentiment changed.
"I just think it's not right to do that at a high school football game, especially for a[n] official paid by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association," North Carolina General Assembly Representative Phil Shepard told JDNews Saturday.
"Whether you agree with whats going on or not, he's officiating a local ball game where young men and women are watching."
"Military men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and I believe it's disrespectful to the country, everybody in the country and what it stands for."
During the NFL preseason, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting and kneeling during the national anthem to protest the oppression of people of color. Fellow NFL players, and those in other sports and walks of life, have adopted Kaepernick's form of protest.
This anonymous referee is believed to be the first official to make such a statement.
-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.