"In a time where bigotry seems on the rise and commitment to racial equality on the decline", Van Gundy wrote", I have an obligation as a citizen to speak out and to support, in any way possible, those fearless and patriotic athletes who are working to bring change to our country.
"One of the most important freedoms that our military has fought for over two-plus centuries is the freedom of speech".
National Football League players who peacefully protest aren't just protesting, and Stan Van Gundy wants to make sure you know that. "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". He writes about how he's broached the subject of racial justice with his team and touches on the historical context of protest as a catalyst for change in America, not despite the fact that it often makes people uncomfortable but because it does so.
In the wake of many of these athletes receiving hateful criticism from fans and politicians, Van Gundy wrote he had an "obligation" to speak out. Those changes, according to the coach, are "focused on criminal justice reform" and include: changing harsh sentencing guidelines and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences; enacting clean slate laws; eliminating cash bail; reforming juvenile justice; and ending police brutality and racial bias in police departments.
"These athletes could take the easy route and not [have] 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. This was true of the abolitionists, the women's suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement, all of which shined a bright and needed light on injustice, demanded that our country live up to its stated ideals and produced our most meaningful change. The 58-year-old coach said Dyson's talk helped him understand there is a difference between nationalism and patriotism - something that is overlooked by those who have criticized athletes who protest during the anthem. "We should all join them in ensuring their collective voice is heard".