O say, can you see, this conversation ever ending?
As much as some of us may just want it to go away, the debate about the national anthem — and how to properly handle both it and the protests that surround it — continues even as we approach November. For months, many have either flat-out protested the anthem or tried to find out ways to raise awareness about social issues such as police brutality, racial inequality, and more problems plaguing America.
This conversation, which really began in sports with the protests started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during preseason games in August, will once again become a trending topic this week as the NBA season kicks off. While the NBA does have a specific rule mandating all players stand during the anthem, teams have worked their way around this by interlocking arms during the tribute to our nation as a means of showing unity and love.
With the college basketball season starting soon, the same conversation on what to do during the anthem is beginning in locker rooms from top schools like Duke and Syracuse to Division III schools. On Sunday, Florida Atlantic basketball coach Michael Curry — a former NBA player and coach with the Detroit Pistons — explained to Chuck King of OwlAccess the team’s plan for how they would handle the national anthem for the 2016-17 season.
“For us, we’re standing as a team with our hands over our hearts for the national anthem. What I said is, and I’m not going against what anybody else’s belief is, when you hear the national anthem, did the flag or the words of the national anthem do something? Or was it people who didn’t uphold it? It’s the people that didn’t uphold it. The flag didn’t do anything it didn’t do other times.”
Curry, entering his third season at FAU after Mike Jarvis’ retirement in 2014, explained that the discussion arose thanks to their weekly conversations about current events; King, a long-time South Florida sports writer, reported that “Kaepernick’s protest served as one such discussion.”
When talking with King, Curry also made it clear that if someone on the team — or the entire roster — wants to raise awareness about an issue, there are different ways of doing it than protesting the anthem.
“We can go out and do things in the community, but whatever we decide to do as a group we were going to do it, and as a group they wanted to continue to stand for the national anthem. We are all disappointed in the behavior or the actions that people are doing and there’s many ways to protest or address it. I just think however we address it I want it always to be as a group and you sit down and discuss. And you have some who have family members in the military or have been in the military, so maybe they have a different stance on things – a different respect level for it.”
The issue was not addressed by Curry or reporters during the team’s media day on Monday afternoon at Florida Atlantic’s Boca Raton campus.
Curry, who helped the Owls improve from a 14th-place finish in Conference USA during the 2014-15 season to 12th last year, enters his third season as FAU’s head coach. FAU, who has not posted a winning season since 2010’s 21-11 (13-3 in conference) record when they were still in the Sun Belt conference, come into 2016 with high expectations after winning their first postseason game since 2008 last year. In Curry’s first two seasons, the Owls are just 17-44, though an improved roster and the long-awaited arrival of redshirt junior guard Frank Booker, who missed last year due to transferring from Oklahoma, should help those stats improve.
A former president of the NBA Players’ Association, Curry played in several leagues from 1990-2005, devoting the majority of his career from 1993 on to the NBA. Curry also served as the Detroit Pistons coach during the 2008-09 season, going 39-43 before being fired after one season.
The Owls tip off their season on November 11 against Texas State in Hawaii and will play at Ohio State and Miami in consecutive December games. The matchup against the Buckeyes is set for the sixth, with the in-state matchup against the Hurricanes scheduled for 10 days later.
[Featured Image by Lynne Sladky/AP Images]