Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy pens op-ed: 'Athletes who protest are patriots'

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DETROIT - Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is sharing his thoughts on athletes who protest.

In an op-ed posted to Time Magazine, Van Gundy proclaims "athletes who protest are patriots."

Here are some excerpts from the op-ed:

"I do not claim to be an expert on race in America. But in addition to working to be an informed citizen and learning about the issues that derive from race, I have been coaching for about 20 years in the NBA, a league that is 75% black. I have been in a unique position to hear from players and staff members about the issues they and their families have had to encounter. In a time where bigotry seems on the rise and commitment to racial equality on the decline, I have an obligation as a citizen to speak out and to support, in any way possible, those brave and patriotic athletes who are working to bring change to our country. I believe all of us do."

"Honoring America has to mean much, much more than standing at attention for a song (one which, by the way, contains racist language in later verses). One of the most important freedoms that our military has fought for over two-plus centuries is the freedom of speech. When these professional athletes protest during the anthem, they are exercising one of the very freedoms for which our military men and women fought so valiantly, thus honoring our highest values and, in turn, those who have fought for them."

"In the great tradition of the civil rights movement, these athletes are using non-violent, peaceful protest to work toward specific changes they want to see in their communities and their country. Because of this “controversy,” people are forgetting what these protestors are trying to change. It’s important for us to talk about it every day until it resonates, until change happens. Their demands are important, and today, I am adding my voice in support."

"What is it that they want? Simply and succinctly: equality. Equal rights. Equal justice. Equal treatment by police and others in authority. Equal opportunity."

"I stand with these athletes — in support of both these causes and their patriotism. I hope others will join me in supporting them. These athletes could take the easy route and not placed their livelihoods at risk by standing up for what they believe in. They’ve put in their hard work. They could accept their paychecks and live lives of luxury. Instead, they are risking their jobs to speak up for those who have no voice. They are working to make America live up to its stated ideals. We should all join them in ensuring their collective voice is heard."

You can read the full op-ed here on Time. 

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