Players, coaches and owners in the NFL and NBA have expressed their opinions about the protests by some players during the national anthem played prior to games.
They also spoke about President Donald Trump’s comments encouraging owners to fire players who protest, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers insisted players have a right to protest.
“I don’t think that players want to protest,” Rivers said, according to the Times. “I think the reason they’re protesting is because they think there’s injustice and there’s prejudice and there’s bigotry. There’re a lot of things that we want [for] our country to be great. I don’t think anyone is upset at ‘Making America Great.’ I think we’re all upset at the word ‘Again.’ When I hear the word ‘Again,’ I’m thinking [going] backwards, going back. That’s what that word means, and I don’t think anyone wants that.”
Rivers added that Trump should take responsibility for the conditions causing the protests.
“We all are cheering for this country to do well,” added Rivers. “So, do your job and players will stop kneeling.”
Clippers guard Lou Williams stressed the importance of remembering what triggered the protest.
“I just want all of us to be mindful of how it started,” Williams said. “This is about police brutality and then everybody looking for equality. I think yesterday’s protest was a direct response to what the president said … If we’re going to protest something, I want it to be for the actual issues at hand instead of just being spiteful.”
Controversy over national-anthem protests exploded after Trump brought up the issue at a rally in Alabama on Sept. 22.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out! He’s fired! He’s fired!'” Trump said.
Rivers said that he thought the protests should in fact be more widespread: “I don’t think this is a black issue either, or a woman’s issue. This is a human rights issue. I think everyone needs to get involved … It shouldn’t just be the players. It shouldn’t be just the owners. It should be everyone.”
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart backed the players’ right to protest.
“Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart added, according to ESPN.
A representative for Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors, noted that the company supports “our armed forces and the national anthem, as well as diversity, equality and freedom of speech.”