National Anthem
My father was a college basketball coach. He had great success coaching inner-city black basketball players who had trouble on and off the court. He was heavily criticized for recruiting these players. He was told they did not belong on a college campus.
The national media called them hoodlums, thugs and worse. The scribes came up with creative comparisons between his players and those from established schools like UCLA and Duke, such as saints vs sinners and all that is right in college sports to all that is wrong.

In the locker room before each game, the “sinners” would kneel in a circle and recite the Lord’s Prayer. On the court, every player stood for the National Anthem. 

In 1972, his Long Beach State team faced the daunting six-time NCAA Champion UCLA Bruins. The media, and many fans, loved UCLA’s program and believed every school should emulate them. During the season, UCLA’s star player, Bill Walton, refused to stand for the national anthem in protest of the Vietnam War. When the national anthem was set to play, the program everyone should “emulate” left the court. They re-entered when the anthem was finished. The players who were “everything wrong” with college sports stood proudly and respectfully with their hands on their heart while the national anthem played. 

Respecting the American flag and the national anthem was very important to my father. His mother, Rose, fled the Armenian Genocide in 1917. She arrived in America with nothing, but she worked hard and took advantage of the opportunities provided by this great country. She woke up every morning and looked outside her window at the San Gabriel mountains and bellowed, “God Bless America”. Her feelings made an indelible impact on my father. He gave his players a lot of freedom and forgave many misdeeds, but he never allowed them to disrespect our country, at least not while representing his team.

I don’t have a problem with an athlete, or anyone else for that matter, protesting our country. The problem is when they do it while representing their team, and more so, when representing their country. If Colin Kaepernick wants to protest, he should do it on his own time, not while he is at work. If he really felt strongly about social injustice, he could have organized a rally, marched down a street, picketed a government building, or held a sit-down at a business, but during his personal time.

The same is true for Megan Rapinoe. If she is so disgusted with America, she should not express those feelings while representing America. She has every right to protest and make a political statement, but it should be done during her personal time. Individuals refusing to stand for the national anthem brings shame only upon themselves, not America. The only thing shameful for America is allowing these individuals to remain on the team.

A star athlete would draw just as much attention to their protest if they did it outside a team function. Imagine Kaepernick with his NFL buddies or Rapinoe and her US Women’s soccer stars marching down a street waiving signs protesting social injustice. Every media outlet would cover it.

Why don’t they do that instead of injecting their political beliefs into the sports arena? Because it is hard. It would require time and effort. They would have to plan, organize, and implement action instead of dropping to a knee while at work. 

Kneeling during the National Anthem isn’t about free speech. It isn’t about social injustice. It is about individuals thirsting for attention and approval from woke America but not willing to do the hard work to make a real difference. 
Danny Tarkanian
Danny Tarkanian is an attorney, businessman, and incumbent Douglas County Commissioner. The author of the "Can you handle the truth?" blog, Danny also runs the Tarkanian Basketball Academy and is married to former GOP Chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian.

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