SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has no issue with players protesting during the national anthem long as it’s done in a respectful way.
Athletes across the country have staged a variety of pregame protests after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in protest of police. violence against African-Americans and minorities.
“Very much believe in the idea of freedom of speech and individuals’ right to express themselves,” Scott said. “I’ve also always seen sport as a great platform for positive social change. To the extent that they’re individuals that want to use their celebrity or use the platform to try to send a positive message and make a positive impact on society. I think that’s great.
“I’ve seen plenty of examples in my career of tennis players and others doing that. As long as it’s done in a respectful way, in a way that’s not demeaning to other people and not disruptive, I think it’s absolutely fine.”
The entire Indiana Fever team recently knelt during the anthem before a playoff game. Several other NFL players, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe and scores of high school and college players also have participated in some form.
Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade gave an anti-violence speech at the ESPYS and expressed their support of the values behind the Black Lives Matter movement in July.
University of California-Berkeley professor emeritus Dr. Harry Edwards told the Associated Press in July that today’s athletes have a level of power that Muhammed Ali and others didn’t have in the 1960s, and they have begun using it to speak out against violence both by and against police. The newfound power of today’s athlete comes from monetary wealth, celebrity status and having the vehicle of social media to communicate directly with the masses.