Former Chicago Bears Coach Lovie Smith weighs in on National Anthem protests.
For a long time, politics have crept into sports from time to time, but the amount it has happened in the past year has been unprecedented. With Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest last season coupled with a polarizing president in the White House, athletes have become more and more political with their platforms.
With Kaepernick currently out of the league (and has also said he will no longer take a knee), the protests have continued during the preseason with Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett.
Current University of Illinois (and former Chicago Bears) head coach Lovie Smith was recently a guest with Steve Torre on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio and was asked about his stance on these protests.
Smith clearly doesn’t oppose these protests at all, but he wants to make sure that his players know exactly what they are protesting and make sure they understand what they are standing up, or in this case, kneeling, for.
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“This is what I tell our players, you live in a society, alright. You can’t avoid everything that’s happening in the world. Be informed. If you make a decision be willing to stand by it. Speak for yourself, you don’t speak for the entire football team.”
Lovie continued, “As a football player you have a mic in front of you at all times. Our guys talk to the media every day. So if there is an issue they’d like to address they can do it at any time. But we want our guys to be involved. I have no comment on what other guys are doing. All I know is today is Wednesday or Thursday and we are locked in with what we are doing right now. I encourage all our guys to vote and I encourage all our guys to be involved with what is happening in their community.”
One thing is clear, with the political climate what it is, these type of situations and stances are going to become more pervasive in sports. Coaches like Smith supporting their players will be important for team unity.