Standing for the National Anthem before a sports match begins is a time-honored tradition that American athletes have been participating in for generations. That is, up until a few years ago, at least.
When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem in a preseason NFL game back in 2016, everything changed.
His act of protest against racism and police brutality quickly caught on among other athletes, and in no time at all, hundreds of players began kneeling during the anthem in solidarity.
Just like that, an American tradition that had been honored for over a hundred years by professional sports players was squashed.
While patriotism is all but dead among many of today’s professional athletes, one college basketball coach is standing against the grain in an attempt to keep the tradition alive.
Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams made a touching plea to his players asking them to please show some respect. The moment he explained to his team why he felt the National Anthem was so important was caught on video and it’s something you just have to see.
The video was first posted on the Changing The Game Project Facebook page and it has since been shared over 160,000 times and received over eight million views.
“Kudos to Coach Buzz Williams, VT Basketball Coach. Given the ignorance or disrespect evidenced by most of today’s athletes during our National Anthem, he decided to ‘have a talk with his players’. All coaches need to do something like this with their players!” the video description reads.
For Coach Williams, not paying respect during the National Anthem is simply not okay and he expects his players to hold themselves to a higher standard.
Williams brought a group of veterans onto the court in front of his team to help illustrate his point.
“We didn’t earn those chairs. Your talent didn’t earn those chairs,” Williams said to his team, in reference to their ability to pursue their dreams.
“How tall you are, how fast you run, and how well you shoot didn’t earn those chairs,” he continued.
Williams then motioned towards the veterans standing in attention in front of the athletes.
“These guys, when they were your age, interrupted their life. They paused their education. They changed their career. And they gave their life for those chairs.”
“Do you guys understand what I’m saying? Not us,” Williams said to his team.
It was a very poignant moment and the players seemed to take the coach’s words to heart.
He finished with the following statement telling his players how he expected them to act. It was not a request.
“So when the anthem is played, we are going to stand like grown men, and we are going to honor men like this, that gave their life so we could have a chair to sit on.”
Racism and police brutality are definitely big problems in society that need to be addressed.
While there is nothing wrong with protesting society’s injustices, at least one coach feels that when the National Anthem is playing is not the correct time to make this sort of statement.
He expects the players on his team to stand during the anthem and pay their respect to the men and women who gave their lives defending our freedom.
Watch the entire video of Coach Buzz William’s patriotic speech below.
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