By Staff Writer Wyatt McNamara
In the wake of this summers controversy surrounding NFL player Colin Kaepernick opting to kneel during the duration of the national anthem, similar demonstrations rallying against supposed “black oppression” have crisscrossed the nation. Unfortunately (although not surprisingly) last Friday’s issue of The Daily Tar Heel marked the arrival of this controversial topic here at UNC- Chapel Hill. In bold letters, slapped across the front page, is an article entitled: “Athletes take a stand against injustice— Coaches say protest is a player’s personal choice.” The article details Roy Williams’ deeply transformative change in opinion regarding issues like the recent Charlotte riots as well as the concept of kneeling during the anthem. Referencing the Colin Kaepernick issue, Roy Williams was initially quoted as saying: “When he did it, at first it made me very angry,…” Several weeks later, Williams allegedly had a change of heart when two players came to him publicly decrying black suffering in the Charlotte area. As stated in The Daily Tar Heel, Williams now said he “supports their decision to demonstrate how they feel is right- even if it means taking a knee during the anthem.”
Reading this article in the Tar Heel left me, frankly, quite embarrassed with the state of affairs at UNC. We can all agree that kneeling during the anthem is technically a valid exercise of freedom of expression, however, allowing this type of action not only further perpetuates the myth of systemic targeted police discrimination, but will also likely lead to economic backlash and potential profit loss on behalf of UNC Basketball. Although I could focus on left leaning constraints surrounding this institution’s officials with pressure to conform, the real blame here falls on Williams. At the onset he stressed his patriotism and gave us all hope that maybe UNC would stand out, maybe UNC wouldn’t be the one to sink to the level of other universities condoning this type of action. Alas, Williams forsakes his ideology at the slightest resistance and provides a blank slate for players to disparage all that this great nation stands for. My question is – How far does “demonstrate how they feel is right” extend? If players decide to host a live flag burning as a November surprise, will Williams turn to the cameras, shrug, and say: “Well…nothing I can do.”
Amongst cries touting “anthem kneeling” as simply a peaceful way to raise awareness for their cause, many forget that sports is in fact — a business. It’s a business in the NFL, it’s a business in the NBA, and even here at Chapel Hill we play sports to–make–money. Thus, if players decide to support the exceedingly disrespectful, dishonorable, and blatantly shameful tradition of kneeling during the anthem it should be no surprise to see losses from donors, decreased ticket sales, etc. Thus, even purely economically, kneeling has no place in UNC- Basketball.
Go home. Think this over. For God’s sake do some research and when you’re ready… come back and tell your players that if they want to ignore FBI statistics, perpetuate Black- Lies- Matter, and denounce the most free and prosperous country in the entire world, maybe this is something that would be better pursued off the court and on their own damn time.