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Suffolk high school football referee Dan Alvino: ‘If players kneel, I walk’

A Suffolk County high school football referee said Tuesday that he would walk off the field if players or coaches knelt during the national anthem at a game in which he was officiating.

“I will not tolerate it, not one bit,” said Dan Alvino, 73, of West Babylon. “If players kneel, I walk. I have to be true to myself and my family.”

Alvino, who said he served as Army military police in Vietnam, said he is not concerned of repercussions, either.

“Section XI [the governing body for Suffolk high school sports] could fire me, I don’t need the money. I’m 36 years a referee and if the association is upset with me then so be it. That’s how I feel. I’m not telling other people how to feel, this is about me. But if they kneel, I’ll walk, especially if a coach doesn’t do anything about it. The flag means a lot to me.”

Alvino said his military roots are deep and that an uncle was killed by a sniper at Normandy in World War II. His nephew, John Ryan, was killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, he said.

“You know people just have to stand up for what’s right,” Alvino said. “Respect the flag and what it stands for, that’s it.”

Alvino won’t be on the field for this week’s games, he said, having been sidelined with a pinched neck nerve, but will be “excited to get back” in two weeks.

Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, said he respects any decision Alvino makes should anyone kneel. “It’s his choice and we would respect it,” Combs said. “He has the right to do what he needs to do and what he thinks is right. We’d have to work with a four man crew at that point.”

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