Stan Van Gundy: Athletes protesting inequality are "Role Models of American Patriotism"

Stan Van Gundy: Athletes protesting inequality are

The Detroit Pistons head coach, one of several prominent National Basketball Association figures to address calls for equality across professional sports, penned an open letter for Time magazine this week, and in it, he offered his support to the NFL players promoting change, calling them "patriots of the highest order".

"Nationalism, he said, is supporting your country no matter what, right or wrong".

Honoring America has to mean much, much more than standing at attention for a song (one which, by the way, contains racist language in later verses).

Public conversation around the anthem protests has frequently been reduced to shouting over the optics and significance of the anthem itself, rather than the meaning of the actual protests.

Van Gundy goes on to write that one should not criticize these players and insinuate they are dishonoring the military or the American flag, as they are simply exercising their freedom of speech. In the days after Donald Trump suggested owners should "get that son of a bitch off the field" if a player doesn't stand for the anthem, Van Gundy said in a statement he stands with "those opposing such bigotry" and "applauds" players who choose to protest.

Van Gundy claimed that the US was "founded by protesters" who felt that Great Britain's laws and policies "abridged their freedoms". Furthermore, as Dr. Dyson reminded our team, protest has almost always been the catalyst for meaningful change.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the NFL's protests last season and has remained a free agent since March, was cited by Van Gundy as being among the athletes who have "been at the forefront of great advances in social justice", and who have paid a price for their activism. The coach also mentioned Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos as other examples. Equal rights. Equal justice.

In the wake of Trump's election previous year, Van Gundy was among many National Basketball Association coaches and players who did not hide their dismay. He lists several of the policy initiatives the group is working on, including the abolishment of mandatory minimum sentences and cash bail.

"All I was trying to do in that - and I don't think I was overly critical of anybody - was to try to show support for the players", said Van Gundy, via the Detroit News.

"These athletes could take the easy route and not place their livelihoods at risk by standing up for what they believe in". They've put in their hard work. "They could accept their paychecks and live lives of luxury", Van Gundy wrote.