When the regular season begins (and hopefully it will), the head coach of The Washington Football Team will be standing for The National Anthem. But Ron Rivera will not question the decision of players to use the anthem as a platform for protest.
“Well, the truth of the matter is again, let’s go back to our Constitution, to our Bill of Rights, the amendment,” Rivera recently told TheAthletic.com. “Let’s go back to the oath of office to serve and protect. Part of the Constitution is the First Amendment. There’s a lot of people out there that support the Second Amendment vehemently. Well, if you support the Second Amendment vehemently, why wouldn’t you support the first one, which is freedom of expression, freedom of speech? And that’s all that is. That’s an extension of one of our unalienable rights, one of our God-given rights, one of the things written into the Constitution. So, again, let’s at least applaud that. Let’s celebrate that as well.”
Rivera said he’ll stand because his father served in the military, his brother was a first responder, and his wife’s family has a history of military service.
“My dad had brothers that served in World War II,” Rivera added. “So to me, standing at attention is what I’m going to do. That’s how I’m going to honor them. I might kneel during the coin toss because I do support Black Lives Matter. I do support the movement to help correct the policing. But at the same time, I think everybody has to celebrate what the Constitution of the United States entitles us to do as Americans. That’s the thing that everybody’s got to understand. We got to get past all this other stuff and quit making this a political fight. There’s nothing political about the Constitution. It’s clear cut the Supreme Court rules on it, follow it, and then we’re supposed to defend it.”
As the pandemic continues to consume so much of football’s focus, issues regarding the anthem will become front and center if/when games are played. Given the uncertainty created by COVID-19, criticism and controversy over players not standing for the anthem should be regarded as the proverbial good problem to have, because it will mean that games are being played.